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Where has the Employer - Employee Relationship Gone Wrong?

it seems to have started with the recession

The deterioration of the relationship between the employer and the employee seems to have started with the Great Recession of 2007 - 2009. Employers were squeezing employees into producing more and more with less and less resources all while taking away benefits and employee rights. “Employers in financial trouble are tightening their belts and squeezing employees,” Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute said in 2009. “In other cases, profitable employers are taking advantage of a dismal job market to squeeze workers harder.”

Expecting more and more from their employees, they did this without raising wages and in many cases, reducing wages in an effort to combat the recession. Employers began rolling back benefits and forcing people to take unpaid time off. In 2009, a report by the Society for Human Resource Management reported that 78% of surveyed employers reduced health care, 72% reduced dependent coverage, 47% reduced employer matched retirement contributions and 44% reduced paid time off. Many employees were asked to give up their vacation days and of course they agreed rather than losing their jobs.

the middle class really is shrinking

Each employee lived in constant fear that this would be the day they would be fired so they had no choice but to comply to all the losses. Employees were thankful for whatever they could get. The result? The middle class began shrinking and the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. This is not a personal political statement. It is what the research shows. Where is the middle class going? Not in the upper class. The lower class has grown exponentially according to the 2022 US Bureau of Labor statistics.

“Even though employees are the ones who generate profits for a company, some firms are more concerned about declining share prices in the near term than holding on to employees but the practice ends up hurting morale and the company in the long term.” - Kathy McKee in 2009, professor of labor law at Regent University

employers choose profit over employees

In 2006, census data reported that 6.1% of families lived below the poverty level. Despite the economy experiencing recovery after the recession as measured by production and economic factors, the percentage of families living below the poverty level has almost doubled at 10.5% in 2019 – pre-covid and 13.7% in 2021. The best explanation I have for this discrepancy is that “employers are choosing profit over investing in their workers, introducing greater precarity in work schedules in the name of efficiency, and achieving greater shareholder value by eliminating middle-income jobs for more low-wage jobs” as reported by The Center for Law and Social Policy in a September 2019 research paper.

the great resignation started over a decade ago

The US Bureau of Labor statistics also reports that the trend of people quitting their jobs has risen every single year since 2010. Further in the last ten years Gallup has measured employee satisfaction 70% of employees polled reported they were not happy at their jobs. This statistic has held steady every single year in the last 10 years. The fact is that the trend of people quitting their jobs did not start after the COVID shutdown. That’s just when it dramatically spiked. The great resignation was the wakeup call we needed. Leadership coaches have been trying to warn companies about this worsening trend for 20 years. Fact – the majority of those companies who listened and took care of there employees during the last 3 years, have already bounced back and are performing at record levels. Why? Because their employees made it happen.

employees now negotiate their employment terms

The fact is, that the pre pandemic normal is gone, especially where the employee experience is concerned. Employees need more from their employers, but in turn, they are willing and wanting to give more - to give their best. People crave a purpose, value, and appreciation in their life now more than ever. They need work life balance and to spend more quality time with their family and developing their own interests. They have conditions that need to be met. The good news is that you can do that as business owners and leaders. You just need systems and processes that target the needs of your employees and your clients.

“Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.” – Anne M. Mulcahy

Extensive research shows that by far the biggest challenge that businesses are facing today is the ability to attract and retain top performing employees. If you know what attracts and sustains top performers, then you know how to create a successful healthy workplace environment. To attract and keep great employees, we must now view the employee employer relationship as more of a collaborative partnership where strategic operations fulfill the needs of the business, the client, and the employee. Folks, it must be a win-win-win operation going forward or your business is not going to survive. It certainly isn't going to thrive.

where do you start?

So where do you start in creating this workplace culture where your employees are happy, high producing, and your business is thriving? This is my area of expertise. I do this by helping you create a people first workplace environment through training and coaching where everyone feels comfortable, motivated, and successful – employers, employees, and your clients.

I leave you with this question - what employee experience are you willing to create for your employees?

Many years my friend, many years....

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