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The Evolution of the Employee

in the beginning, we were entrepreneurs

As I researched the causes of the Great Resignation, I found one aspect of particular interest as it has not been brought up in most of my research – the evolution of employees. As it turns out, we have come full circle and I personally do not think this is an accident. Our American ancestors worked primarily on farms in primarily rural America before the 1800s, they were entrepreneurs though they probably didn't think of it that way. Driven by energy producing technology (the 1st revolution) and manual labor assembly line technology (the 2nd revolution), large corporations began popping up in every business industry. National firms began replacing small local businesses and hiring vast amounts of manual labor. Most individuals, tired of the risks and wanting a steadier, dependable income for their family, left their farm and became employees in the city for these large firms.

manual labor replaced by technology

During the 1950s, technology began to give away to automation and these large firms began to embrace this 3rd Industrial Revolution; hundreds of thousands of employees were laid off creating a serious recession. Eventually, companies began to focus on efficiency and inventory cost reduction which once again changed the employee model as manual labor was replaced by intelligence skills. It is well understood that manual labor is rewarded with money but turns out, as employees provide their employers with intelligence skills, they expect more than a paycheck. They want appreciation, to be valued, and respected. Technology continued to dominate businesses creating products that made tasks faster and simpler.

“The fast-paced nature of our technologically-driven world seems to create issues that would appear to be foreign to ancient civilization.” - David Kim

life became so fast-paced

During the first 2 decades of the 3rd industrial revolution, technology continued to create a lifestyle with additional tasks to complete, increasing information to process, more people to deal with, and new adventures to experience. By 2007, smart technology, and the everyday use of the Internet, became a way of life for the average American and the 4th Industrial Revolution began. People are now connected to each other more than ever and have limitless information at their hands, on any topic, in countless formats. This fast-paced, mind-boggling way of life is a vast contrast to that of our 18th century ancestors.

something was going to give

In the days just before COVID, life was so full of tasks, events, responsibilities, constant information to process, so much was happening that, as human beings, we could not acclimate ourselves to the constant fast-pace. The result was a deterioration of family values, self-care, work-life balance, and relationships – all relationships. Mental illness began to run high and even started overpowering schools, workplaces, hospitals and jails. Something was going to give. Something did.

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” – Richard Bach

life slowed down and we liked it

Covid hit and the world shut down. Ripple affects began in so many areas of life that we still do not understand it all. What we are beginning to understand is that those already suffering from mental illness got so much worse. Shootings increased, racial conflict exploded, media became subjective, and social media spewed harsh posts and opinions by the trillions breaking life-long friendships and relationships. Something else happened. Families shut in together began to interact with each other, creating TikTok dances, cooking and eating meals together, and doing schoolwork together because, well – the parents became the teachers. Life slowed down. Priorities shifted. Being with family made the stress bearable and even, not so significant. Life was hard, we had to learn to do things differently, but we adjusted and did it together, with our family. We visited grandma smiling through the window. We cheered on graduating seniors with parades and car streamers. We visited grandkids by Facebook and played virtual games with them touching their little cheeks on the screen. We came full circle, and we have no intentions of going back.

we've come full circle

We do not have control over every aspect of our life even after the pandemic, especially as technology advances continue to redefine how we live. But we now know what a gift it is to prioritize what is important to us – that part of a slow-paced life we were able to experience for a few weeks or months - that which brings meaning to our own life. Self-care matters and it matters to each person in a different way. Some people want to spend more time with their kids and their important events. Some people want more time to work out or indulge in hobbies. Some want more time vacationing with family or friends. I can see it now – my great, great grandmother taking a moment out of her endless daily chores on the farm to chase little Tommy around the chickens and scooping him up into her arms to look at cloud animals while lying on the grass. I think somewhere along the way, we lost the importance of making those kinds of memories with our families and now they matter to us once again.

Many years my friend, many years....

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