My job is a weird thing I can’t explain. It’s the place where everyone goes and makes friends, because everybody is about the same age and slightly insane. I feel fine there because I like about ninety percent of the people I work with, and they make an ordinarily tedious job much more bearable. It is also a miserable hellhole where everyone is unhappy and feels under appreciated because the “leaders” and superiors can’t handle power. It’s cool, but it’s not cool. I can’t explain it.
When I started about a year ago as a content writer, I liked pretty much everything about the company. Sure, SEO is evil and horrible and boring, but it’s useful and interesting if you learn the power and potential it could have if you put it to good use. I was happy because I was learning something new, doing something I was good at, at a place where people didn’t feel the need to pressure employees to achieve the results desired. Salaries were good, the boss was a cool, generous person, and everybody was friendly. Plus, there was no dress code, which was probably the single thing that got me hooked on this thing. The bosses and the people in charge knew (or at least pretended to know) the potential that people working there had, and they were appreciative of your efforts. It was pretty much a perfect work environment, right?
There’s a little thing I forgot to mention. The company I work with is an outsourcing company whose sister company is in New Jersey. The owners saw a HUGE money making opportunity in this country, and decided to set up a sort of sweatshop here, so they could save up some bucks and make themselves rich. Not at all a bad thing, as long as they keep us happy. When the owners saw the potential this idea had, obviously, they got a little greedy, and decided to “expand”.
Growth is a great thing, so long as you know how to control it. Of course, they didn’t.
One of the most frustrating things about being in a land foreign to your superiors, is that they don’t know you. You’re just a number to them. The number they charge clients for the work you do per hour, while they pay you a fixed salary every month. You earn them more money, you’re cool. They don’t know what you can do, or what you want, or how you feel. One of the downsides of expanding a company with inexperienced and careless leaders, is that, the more the company grows, the harder it is to keep people happy. A boss needs to be smart enough to know how to keep things under control, and at the same time, keep people content and eager to work. When people realize they are just a ghost writer behind the computer, a number in the owner’s fat bank account, they feel demotivated and pissed off.
The situation went more or less like this: As bosses got ambitious, mass hirings took place. First, the idea was to outsource only the positions that would be most costly in the United States. They hired two graphics designers who were a little underpaid for their qualifications. No problem. Then, the idea got a little broader, and they hired more content writers. Work was pouring out into our hands day by day, and the demand for more people arose. So, they hired even more content writers, some better than others, but all qualified and well-educated. The trend began to shift, as they realized younger people required smaller salaries. So, there was an influx of young people coming into the company earning fairly basic wages (up until about September, I was the youngest person in the office). And this is how we are today. When I started, there were ten people. Today, there are close to 40 people in the same small space they rented two years ago, for only five people.
When you are faced with the situation of dealing with 40 people and are inexperienced and have no balls – and I will honestly say our boss here is and does not – and your advisors are ruthless, power-thirsty bastards, your idea of an ideal work environment will notoriously switch. It’s logical. If you don’t know better, the one thing you’ll come up with in order to keep things under control, is applying more pressure. Pressure on your employees to work more, on the team leaders to keep everyone productive, on everyone to avoid distractions. This is how totalitarian regimes are born. Seriously, I can totally imagine Kim Jong Il telling people they will go to prison if they open Facebook. If they had internet, of course. The thing is, they don’t realize they’re doing it wrong. They think you should be grateful that you have a job.
Well, here’s a little thing I’ve been thinking about. We all deserve respect. When leaders resort to vulgar, derogatory insults because they think you’re not doing enough, employee-employer relationships are fractured, and respect is lost. This is what’s been going on lately. People feel unappreciated, disliked and overwhelmed. Respect between superiors and employers is close to non-existent, and leaders instill fear instead of trust in their people. This is no way of keeping things “under control”. When unnecessary measures are taken to keep people productive, and employees are only blamed for their faults but not rewarded for their victories, you know you are failing at everything you wanted success at. Sooner or later, things are going to blow up in your fucking face, and then it will be impossible to keep them under control.
They don’t know they’re about to have shit all over their faces, though. They think fear tactics are the way to proceed, and so long as people are afraid of something, be it getting fined, fired or laid off, they will love the company and do everything they are asked to do. This is the usual, dummy way of thinking. The intelligent way of thinking, however, would be to keep people motivated by letting them grow, both professionally and personally. Teaching, providing opportunities, enabling bonding between staff members. Keeping people happy. We do not want diamonds, we just want to be treated fairly. Motivation. But they don’t care. They don’t even want to consider it. They just want to make money, and their mindset is never going to change. We represent way too much income for them to let us have a little leeway.
I am frustrated to see a place with such potential for great things go to waste. I believe in all my fellow employees, but I have no faith in or respect for the leaders. Some of them are not well-intentioned, and some of them are pussies. It would be so easy to make things alright, and go back to that great work environment I encountered when I started in the company, but their blindness and inability to see the broader scope of things baffles me. It’s impossible to reason with people so set in their ways and hungry for money and power. Maybe I don’t understand cause I don’t give a fuck about money, and I would never be a boss. In all honesty, if being a boss implies putting money above feelings, I don’t want to be one ever, ever.
I still can’t explain how I feel about my job. With certain, specific exceptions, I love everyone there. I have met truly awesome people through this company, and I will always be grateful for that. However, I’m finding it harder and harder to stay in a place that does not appreciate my potential. I know who I am and I know I have a future. I’m sure I can say the same about the great majority of my co-workers. It’s so sad that the ones in charge can’t see that.