Workplace Battles

Every day, all across America, there is a battle in the workplace that makes for a difficult and stressful atmosphere for many. It’s an undeclared and largely ignored battle which comes complete with tactics, strategies, and propaganda. Power plays and drama are evident in the actions and attitudes of employees on one side, and employers and managers on the other. Long term consequences may be unintended yet they are harmful and clearly not thought out.

You are lucky to find a workplace in which common sense and cooperation prevails on both sides, and some do manage this. However, most of the time this seems to not be the case. The two sides are working from different angles with different goals. There is little effort or concern with forming and maintaining productive relationships, at least other than superficially. This friction between the two sides can be found in all types of businesses – large or small, public or private. It’s an equal opportunity problem.

It’s said that shit rolls downhill. The supply at the top is so plentiful that it doesn’t take much for the laws of gravity to kick in and send it all running downhill. Yes, the goal of  business is to make money, but perspective is so strongly skewed to that purpose that this pursuit comes at its own cost.

Employees are seen as merely tools in this pursuit. In the minds of those on top, the worth of their employees doesn’t extend beyond what they can provide for the sake of business profit. There is no real effort or sufficient motivation to truly include employees as an integral and valued part of the business.

Stretching their employees to get all they can out of them is an art form they are continually trying to improve upon. Under-staffing, cutting hours, and limiting benefits while imposing an increased workload is common. This doesn’t inspire loyalty or motivation. This is a demanding and stressful situation that results in a negative atmosphere affecting not only employees but consumers. It shows through the quality of the final product or service.

Businesses advertise quality, caring, and trustworthiness in any way they can. It’s the height of hypocrisy and false advertisement. You cannot treat people poorly and expect ideal results in return. Yet they do because they don’t have the vision to see beyond the bounds of their professional interests. Their world is very narrowly defined.

Therefore many businesses suffer from “the revolving door syndrome”. They have a hard time attracting and keeping quality employees. This means continuous training and many rookie mistakes as new employees learn the job. Responsibility for this syndrome lies partly with the business and the work environment, and partly with employees themselves. In addition to the “us versus them” mentality, there is also friction between employees.

Many people today seem to have poor work ethics. They lack a strong sense of responsibility, are lazy, and cut corners if and when possible. They just don’t care about quality or their co-workers. Absenteeism is also a problem. Some who work for a business that provides sick pay learn how to work the system to take as many sick days as they can get by with.

It makes it harder on other employees who are left to pick up their slack. It’s like having to babysit and pick up after a toddler, not to mention that it’s just rude. And they often somehow manage to get away with it. It’s very frustrating for those who do care and are responsible to have to work alongside such people. It’s bad enough having to deal with indifferent owners and managers. Adding co-workers to that mix makes for a more stressful and unpleasant work experience.

These irresponsible people are also restricted by boundaries, but theirs are personal and not professional. They too neither know nor care about anything outside of their own concerns and goals. It’s a shame when people’s worlds are as narrowly defined as this. It presents a true barrier to understanding, cooperation, and improvement for all concerned.

So how intentional is it that such an atmosphere not only exists but thrives as well? The drama present is indicative of blame on both sides. They each complain about the other and undermining attitudes and behaviors flourish. In some places it’s so bad that you have to wonder how the business functions at all. They certainly don’t function well or to their fullest potential.

Trust and respect is absent and without that there cannot be a truly cooperative, positive environment. Common sense says it would be in the best interest of business to cultivate a workplace that brings out the best in people and not the worst. Responsible people should be actively sought and retained, but there must be an incentive for them to stay.

Respect and a positive environment are huge incentives. Profits could still be made and even increased as worker productivity and satisfaction would also increase. Businesses have a much better chance of attracting and keeping customers when the workplace is healthy. This means healthy on the inside and not just the trappings of appearing to be so.

For this situation to change an effort must be made by both sides. This will only happen if perceptions are broadened and the need for change is recognized and the desire for it is genuine. The workplace battle is exhausting and uses up energy and resources that kills confidence, motivation, and loyalty. This affects everyone as people depend on employment to earn a living, and consumers depend on businesses that are trustworthy, sincere, and quality oriented.

I admit that there is much about the business world that I don’t understand. Likewise, there is much about the human world that those in business don’t understand. Humanity cannot advance through the nurturing and manipulation of numbers alone. Numbers need people or they lose their meaning and importance, and people need people or else we all lose our meaning and importance.