This week, I came across an interesting article on Channel News Asia by Sara-Ann Lee on “Always tired and worried about under-performing-when extreme meritocracy drives burnout.” Sara-Ann Lee also mentioned that “Organizations must treat employees as the soul of their company, rather than as resources to be expended at their disposal.” While this is indeed true, it is always a two way street in terms of employer and employee relationship. Employees should also stop treating their organizations as a resource to exploit and be expended while pursuing their career and wealth accumulation. I list down some of the paradoxes in employer and employee relationship.
1. Time waits for no one. Every man for himself then?
Firstly, I find it strange that many young employees these days like to job hop. I have seen resumes of job candidates who change job every 1 or 2 years. I also have colleagues who jump ship every 1 or 2 years so that they can have a huge jump in salary increment. Their motto is “Every man for himself”. Show me the money first and fast. No use telling me to wait for year-end promotion and grow with the organization.
2. Strawberry generation
One of my colleagues remarked that the strawberry generation are easily bruised. I can remember during my first few years in the auditing profession, there were a number of “meanie” senior managers who like to scold their staff for not fulfilling their required standard. There were even files being thrown out of the office and into the rubbish bins right in front of the junior employee by the senior managers. Nowadays, the situation is entirely different. If a manager tells off a staff, chances are the employee would tender resignation the next day. If a manager throws a file into the dustbin, the employee may complain directly to MOM or raise a lawsuit for abuse and psychological harm.
3. Singaporeans are victims of our own success
It probably does not help that Singaporean parents are better to do relative to their parents or grandparents’ generation who in their earlier days were struggling to put food on the table. I had a colleague who told me that her parents asked her to quit the auditing profession as the hours were too long and the work too stressful. The parents even told my colleague that they would give her a monthly allowance/pocket money if she decided to quit the job while looking for an “easier” job. Not sure whether this is the right way to educating young adults which is not exactly molding them into a value-adding employee in the workforce.
4. My way or the highway modern employees
Some employees cannot be criticized. If you bring up that their reports can be further improved on for presentation, they immediately felt very defensive and offended. These particular employees think that they are the best of the best after graduation. They will then decide to quit as they feel that their “professionalism” is being insulted.
My personal thought is that there is no doubt that some organisations- in its pursuit of business excellence via uncompromising effectiveness and adopting a paradigm of no-nonsense- appears devoid of heart, soul and spirit in its interaction and dealing with employees. But at the same time, there are also heartless employees who treated their employers as nothing but a mere stepping stone to cater to their own individual whims that are clearly not in the interest as well as out of sync with that of their organization’s businesses as well as the greater good of our whole society.