Quickhit: Workers saying goodbye to selfish bosses

From today’s Australian:

“Employees feel they have been left in the lurch; no one has thanked them for sticking to the task during the tough times and no one’s talking to them now about their futures,” he said.

Unlike in previous downturns, employers sought to minimise redundancies and instead asked workers to take pay cuts, accept wage freezes and work fewer hours. While workers held on to their jobs, employers benefited by retaining skilled employees.

Mr Sexton said employees were frustrated that their sacrifices were not being acknowledged as the economy recovered.
Unless employers took action, companies risked losing their most talented employees and would be forced to pay the higher costs of recruiting new staff.

So, does any reader work for a company which has prioritised normalising promotion/pay structures for employees who made sacrifices during the GFC? Or are you one of the many being overlooked while restoring company profits for the benefit of shareholders takes priority?

Or does your company actually seem to be managing the balancing act of normalising financial rewards for both employees and shareholders?

Categories: arts & entertainment, economics, work and family

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7 replies

  1. What? Nobody could see this was going to happen??
    While the author’s point about employees feeling that they might be owed something for having tightened their belts on behalf of their employer, he is in fact incorrect when he says that in previous downturns employers didn’t use wage freezes and reduced hours and so on to manage their salary costs. That’s precisely what happened in 1982-83.
    Though it was technically instigated by the Fraser government, employers were very happy to impose the “wage pause”, and in some industries this went beyond the planned time frame of 6 months. My employer at the time also insisted that all outstanding annual leave be taken to reduce provisions for such, and shortened the working week for many employees. They also terminated cadets and apprentices at the completion of their studies, which was stupid because all that did was create, within a year or two, a shortage of skilled labour in the organisation!
    I’ve seen the same measures applied in the last 12 months, and some new ones. Performance based bonuses cut. Office relocations that save rent for the employer and shift the burden of cost onto the employee who now pays more in public transport fares. And so on.
    I imagine many employees (especially those “of a certain age”) were too scared to vote with their feet while the job market was tight. Now that there is some improvement in some sectors I say more power to those who jump ship and leave the captains scratching their heads while they work out how to put the oars in the rowlocks.

  2. I hear you loud and clear. I too think this is simply a case of certain employers reaping what they have sown over the last 18-24 months. This short-term managerial thinking, where skilled company staff are no longer seen as a valuable company asset in their own right, seems to be part and parcel of the shareprice-driven economy, though.

  3. This short-term managerial thinking, where skilled company staff are no longer seen as a valuable company asset in their own right, seems to be part and parcel of the shareprice-driven economy, though.
    My partner just resigned to stay home with our daughter. He’d worked for the same company for 7 years and regularly fielded calls regarding the system (in spite of not being anywhere near that area – he just had enough experience that if you had a minor issue you called him). When the GFC hit he (and his team) were given a 10% pay cut in the form of a 9 day fortnight with promises that when the economy recovered they could choose between keeping the 9 day or going back to full time. Come the ‘recovery’ he was given a week warning that he was back to 10 days with no recourse to change and any of his team with flexible hours was to change into line with other teams because his boss doesn’t like flexible hours. So it was no real disservice to him to quit.
    Then Monday (three weeks after the resignation) his replacement calls and asks him to come in because they’re well behind and need his expertise. He pointed out that midday is a stupid time to call someone and he was actually on the other side of the city at the zoo. So they asked for him to come in the next day. The pay? Less than half of what he used to get, below what the rest of the team gets and below the base rate for new employees in his team.
    (He did go in because he doesn’t like to leave his old team floundering but it was a slap in the face to not only have them ignore his current home duties but to offer less pay)

  4. W0w, GA what a position to put him in. I hope next time he either demands a lot more $$ or tells them to go jump.

    ETA: it is not unusual in some jobs for a contractor to be on twice or three times what normal staff get, for doing the same job. Specialist jobs that is.

    • What Mindy said about them wanting him to come in to fix problems they can’t fix themselves – if they won’t pay him a proper contractor’s rate? If I were he I would tell them to go jump.

  5. I’m not employed in the private sector, but for the last 18 months my workplace has had a ‘hiring freeze’, which means that if a staff member resigns we:
    a) beg and present a detailed campaign as to why said job is essential and must be filled. This is followed by much thumb-twiddling and harrumping by higher-ups while they delay as long as possible; or
    b) pick up their work in addition to our own and be spread increasingly thin.
    Since the GFC, every interaction has been accompanied by reminders about how lucky we all are to have jobs at all and that we better not ask for anything or ‘whinge’ about conditions. As you can imagine, morale is high.
    GA, what Mindy and TigTog said. Bloody cheek of them.

  6. And by demanding significantly more money for contract work it will make his ex employer appreciate (and hopefully reward better) his former colleagues more too.
    This is pretty much the market at work. I think it was good that employers cut hours rather than whole jobs during the downturn – in most cases its better for the employee and the employer. But as the article describes they’ll find they lose a lot of good people if they don’t find ways to improve working conditions as things get better again. Because there are employers out there willing to do so.

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