I have written about my disdain for the power/control dynamic between employer and employee before but I was recently reminded (Twice, unfortunately) just how jacked up this relationship can be.
Employers speak softly until the bottom line is threatened, then it’s time for the bigger stick.
It doesn’t seem to matter if…
You are a good employee or a train wreck
Had an agreement in place with the Human Resources department
or fill the coffee pot after you drain it (I nominate people for employee of the quarter who do this and shank the ones who don’t)
Eventually, you will get screwed. Employers are capable of unfavorable action* despite previous performance at any time and if you need the paycheck, you can’t do jack about it.
One good thing that happened last month… I did see my HR rep try to sit on the desk part of a chair and topple over in the middle of our floor (she was uninjured, except for her pride)
*Unfavorable Action = Bull Shit
My two stories, sorry homies, I need to vent
1. What did you do to my Health Plan?
I don’t want to complain too much about having employer-sponsored health coverage available to me but I am going to anyway because it put me in a tough spot this year.
Last year, we had 3 health coverage options and we selected the middle one because Mrs. AE’s doctor (who she loves) was in network and we were ok paying a slight premium over the cheaper plan with a smaller network.
Come 2018, I crack open the benefits package and only see two options, the cheaper one with a small network and a ridiculously expensive one with a broad network. Of course the Doctor and hospital we delivered our first child at were not absorbed into the cheap plan.
We would have to pay an extra $200/month to keep going there.
This, of course, was all done with no explanation or consideration from the employee’s perspective. I can only assume it was financially based and
I was terrified to lay out the options to Mrs. AE. Basically, we had to choose between saving a bunch of $ on premiums (as the out of pocket costs were comparable) or the doctor/hospital we (more importantly Mrs. AE) were comfortable with.
Ultimately we decided that we liked our doctor, but not to the tune of $2,400 and switched to a new provider
2. What do you mean my raise didn’t go into effect?
3 weeks later I am still a SUPER-ANGRY-UlTRA-BEAR about this one and won’t get over it until it’s fixed.
Starting Jan 1st, I was supposed to get a fairly significant raise (about 6K/year). Everything seemed to be in place as the end of the year approached. With baby number 2 on the way, more money sounded damn good (it always does, but it sounds even better with our incoming childcare costs). As I was leaving for a 3-day fishing trip, I was told everything should be squared away by the time I got back.
It turns out everything was squared away, but not in my favor. I was informed that a “new policy” went into effect and I wouldn’t be getting anything.
So after months of negotiating an inter-company transfer, it was pulled out from under me without warning or a chance to defend my reasoning.
I will write another post once this saga ends and how it played out
Your Employer Carries the Bigger Stick
Both of these examples highlight how quickly things can change and more importantly, that if you are 100% dependent on your paycheck you can’t do shit about it.
“Good” Employees can lose
For the majority of my career, I have felt immune to the employment horror stories I hear about. Be it layoffs, pay cuts or a spending freeze, I thought my consistent streak of “Exceeds Expectations” performance reviews would keep me moving in the right direction.
And if you look at my raise history, from 36K to 85K in 6 years, I was immune. The vast majority of the time things worked out in my favor.
A few questionable quarters in a row and the belt tightens, what worked previously is no longer effective and you start asking yourself “Are worse things coming?”
Money = Power and Control
I hate writing that heading out, but it doesn’t change the facts
Anytime you are 100% dependent on money, the source of it has the power and control over your time and decisions. It forces you to put up with nonsense that you wouldn’t under any other circumstance.
If a store treated you poorly as a customer you would take your money power somewhere else. When your employer treats you poorly you have to put up with it, at least temporarily until you find a new job.
But does a new job actually change anything?
It might be better for awhile, but the bottom line still exists. You are still a cost on the balance sheet.
Someone will inevitably try to cut back and hack apart something you counted on. It could be your health coverage, 401k Match, yearly raise or free snacks in the break room. 2 months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed I would be in this position, but here we are.
I don’t care if you want to work forever or love your job, insulating yourself from the whims of your employer is important regardless of your plan or wishes. Give yourself the choice, It’s the only way to protect yourself and guarantee options.