Friday, June 21, 2013


The other day I sat down to write about my job and the pleasure I take in working with the women there.  I wandered off through a litany of my jobs in the last few years.  Probably because I woke up at 5 am and couldn't get back to sleep.  Blogging while sleepy makes for meandering thoughts.

When I told someone in my book group that I was hoping to get out of my last job and wanted to work with women again, she was skeptical.  I have met a lot of women who prefer to work for men.  I don't get it.  I have had the best experiences working with women and especially women in creative environments.  My last job was tolerable but tiring when it came to the sexist "jokes",  language, innuendo and the boys will be boys stuff.  Even that isn't what broke down my desire to remain.  There was a fundamental unfairness in the compensation offered and a negative attitude toward the employees by the owner.  He harped on any little problem and rarely acknowledged the positive.

In the jobs I have had in the past 9 years, the businesses owned and run by women have been the most "fair" when it comes to how employees were treated.  There was concern for the individual, appreciation was expressed for hard work and benefits were more generous.  And with those policies and attitudes came more success than in the last business I worked for.  Karma?  I don't know.  Just an observation that with happy, supported employees comes hard work and extra effort which contributes to the bottom line.

The exception was the hotel.  The manager was thin skinned and overworked so her management was uneven.  She had a great assistant manager who is the main reason I stayed so long.  The owners of the company were the big problem.  They are multi-millionaires who were incredibly cheap when it came to employees.  They were known to say they hated having employees (they are primarily involved with real estate investments and built the hotel for reasons unexplained.)  They paid just over minimum wage and I was amazed to find out shortly before I left that no one had had a raise in over 4 years. 

When I left  a couple of long time employees said something along the lines of "all the good ones leave."   That does seem to be the way it works.  Turnover is a pretty strong indication that there is something wrong not with the employees but with management.  But as often happens, those who create the problem tend to blame others rather than recognising their part.

The man I worked for last was talking with one of his insurance agents and their conversation turned to finding good employees.  The insurance guy said  "We don't have an unemployment problem in this country, we have a lot of unemployable people who don't really want to work."  My old boss took up that statement as his new complaint.  I pointed out that I had seen ads from insurance companies when I was job hunting and they wanted all kinds of skills and experience, even sometimes a license yet offered no more than $10.00 an hour in pay.  Do they really think that is going to attract qualified applicants? 

Getting a job in a tough economy is important, but what is the point of a job that doesn't pay enough to cover even the most austere expenses?  (Remember, we live in one of the most expensive areas of the country - maybe $10.00 an hour is a living wage in other parts of the US, but not in the San Francisco area...) 

Blaming employees for the cost of doing business; downsizing, reducing benefits and pay, not offering sick
days or vacation time, etc. are short sighted and short term fixes which rarely, if ever, positively affect the bottom line of a business. And clearly, we have all seen the death of good customer service, the long wait to get through to a live person when we call, had to search for an employee when we are shopping and need assistance and the long check out lines in stores. 

Now that the economy is starting to recover, it would be a great idea for businesses to invest in hiring, training and generously supporting some good customer service employees again.  We would all benefit.


knittergran said...

My husband was talking politics with his Republican brother who was complaining about government aid, spending on the poor, etc., and my husband commented that he was tired of subsidizing MacDonalds and businesses like that that pay minimum wage or slightly more. His brother wondered how on earth we were subsidizing them. He had never thought about the use of food stamps, housing subsidies, medical care at ERs because minimum wage workers don't have insurance, and all of those sort of hidden costs to the taxpayers. Imagine if everyone made a living wage AND could afford health care insurance.
Heresy, I suppose.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My work environment is probably 80% or more women. I love it. The big boss is a woman and she was also a college athlete--you can really tell by what a team player she is.

As long as corporate America is lauded and exempted by a large number of people for operating without any moral imperative or conscience, this economy will never grow.

Nan said...

It's odd how many business owners don't seem to recognize the truth in the old adage "You get what you pay for." One of my right-wing Republican relatives used to own an construction company. He complained all the time about the quality of the workers he had, but he paid just barely above minimum wage. Guys would work for him just long enough to gain some experience and then leave and he'd actually wonder why. Well, why stay with someone who's paying you $8 an hour when every other contractor is starting carpenter's helpers at $10? There are a lot of business owners who want to blame all their problems on external forces (government regulations, etc) when the biggest problem is themselves.

As for working with or for women as opposed to working with or for men, the best boss I ever had was a man, but so was the worst. My personal preference has been to work with men; I have an easier time communicating with them than with women.