In this illustrated extended blog post, author Alison Green debunks myths that many of us have about the work place. Read it here. Ms.Green points out that we should distrust myths like, “Companies are required to be fair and just,” and, “The HR department will help you.”
A company’s HR department, ethics policies and “family friendly” promises may be genuine. Often they’re efforts to convince you that you’re dealing with a gracious, princely organization. In reality it’s a frog and always will be.
The best way to deal with difficult companies is:
1 – Have something going so you’re in a position to walk away from a tense or hostile workplace.
One reason employers get away with so many injustices – and even outright cruelties – is that employees feel chained to the company. If you have a weekend business – even if you’re walking dogs or mowing lawns – you’ll have a cushion to help when things go badly.
2 – Be aware of non-legal concerns that companies have, such as a desire to be viewed favorably by customers and potential employees.
Many years ago a San Francisco newspaper featured a story about age discrimination at I. Magnins. Apparently the store had decided they needed fresh, young faces on the retail floor. Of course many of their customers were in the demographic that the company allegedly attacked. The day after the story appeared, the floors were empty, as customers chose to shop elsewhere.
3 – Always have a Plan B.
I’ve met too many people who were stranded in a small town, with no other employment alternatives handy. I’ve talked to people who took a lower-level job “just to have a job” and then got so comfortable they were unmarketable 5 or 10 years later, when (a) their employer closed down or (b) technology made them obsolete.
4 – Keep building your skills.
If you’re working for a company, it’s hard to disconnect at the end of the day. Therefore it’s a good idea to take classes where you’re in a structured, live learning environment.
5 – Don’t get too comfortable.
Too often I’ve heard people say, “I just lost my job … and we had just bought a big house.” Or, “Well, this job is good. I don’t have to think about the future.”
A job that’s fun in your 30s and 40s can feel like an albatross in your 50s and 60s.
A job that’s enjoyable because of your boss, office, or location will seem intolerable when any of those things change.
You may wake up one day and realize, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Of course you want to enjoy luxuries and perks. I recommend consulting with a licensed financial planner to discuss your “what if” scenarios and make plans.
To discuss whether you are dealing with a frog (or have somehow missed the princely elements of your own organization), see http://www.MidlifeCareerStrategy.com/services.html