Help Wanted: Good Employees Need Not Apply

slackerThe workplace can be difficult enough with the challenges and hurdles in doing your job.  It is made even more difficult when other employees don’t pull their own weight or managers fail to deal with the problem employees.

It has become an alarming trend in the workplace.  Maybe we can blame the “entitled generation” or “social media” attitude we have now.  I don’t really know what to call it.

I guess I’m old-fashioned to think people should come to work and do their jobs. I’m beginning to think employers either don’t really want good employees or they just don’t want to deal with the problem employees.

The good and dependable employees get taken advantage of and are expected to pick up the slack.  It seems now that supervisors and managers want the pay grade of their position but they don’t want to reprimand or hold the slackers accountable for their actions. What message does this send to the good employee? If you think that means the good employee can get away with the same actions, think again. Good employees are held to a higher standard and while allowances are made for the bad ones while the same allowances aren’t made for the good ones.

I knew someone who worked for the state who had a co-worker who was a slacker.  The supervisor told them to make copies of documents where the employee had made mistakes so that the supervisor could keep it in a file.  We’re not sure whatever happened to this file and we think it had to be a pretty damn big file somewhere because the supervisor never used it. We think it was just to appease the good employees in thinking that the supervisor was going to eventually do something if that file had enough evidence to reprimand the bad apple in the bunch.

It is disheartening to work a job where you are held to high standards but then see that your co-worker is not as dedicated and is absent of integrity yet they are given a free pass.  Their excuses for not doing their job are ridiculous and when they call out, it is the norm rather than the exception.

It makes me seriously doubt that employers want good employees anymore. I guess it has become more and more difficult to find good employees. The hiring process is sometimes flawed as well. It is assumed that if a person had a college degree or served in the military that they would be a good employee. Believe me, just because a person is a college graduate or former military does not qualify a person to do a job. Once upon a time you probably could count on those qualities to determine that someone was going to be an asset to the company. I have seen it being a liability more and more in the past several years.

Another reason I think that employers refuse to deal with the slacker employees is that they are afraid of retaliation. Whether it be in the form of workplace violence or litigation. They don’t want to make anyone mad anymore and certainly don’t want to reprimand anyone for doing a bad job.

So the inability to deal with the slacker employee stresses the rest of us out. We end up having to carry their workload. People come to us if they want something done instead of the actual person who is responsible for it.

So how do you deal with this?  What can the good employee do?  I have pondered on this often and I have reached two conclusions:

  1. Don’t stop being the good employee – Yes, I know it sucks when you see others getting away with being slackers or not doing their jobs but that isn’t a reason for you to join them.  Obviously those employees have greater issues in their lives and if you hang on long enough their day will come – and sometimes it takes a LONG time for that day to come.
  2. Keep your resume updated – I’m not an advocate of job hopping but you can keep your eyes open for better employment opportunities.  Maybe there’s a better fit for you and keeping the hope alive for an employer that will truly appreciate your integrity.

We are not alone in this struggle.  Nearly everyone (93%) has a co-worker who doesn’t do their fair share, according to a 2013 VitalSmarts survey of 549 people — and four in five say their work quality diminishes when they have to cover colleagues’ work. Yet just 10% of people speak up about coworkers’ slacking, per the survey; top reasons include the belief that voicing concern won’t make a difference, an unwillingness to undermine a working relationship, a feeling that it’s not their place, fear of retaliation, or uncertainty over how to broach the conversation.

Unfortunately,  work is work.  It has to be done and whether we like it or not we have to remember why we are doing it.  We’re doing it to pay the bills and support our families.  Yes, we might have to pick up the slack and it’s just totally unfair sometimes but that’s what we have to deal with.  If it were fun it wouldn’t be called work.

Not a Fan of Administrative Professionals Day

confused-workerToday is Administrative Professionals Day (once upon a time known as Secretaries Day). I am not a fan of these Hallmark-induced days.

Wait. Let me explain.

I think bosses and employees should be appreciated EVERY day. There shouldn’t be a day where we get a free lunch, a card or flowers for appreciation for doing our JOBS.

Speaking of flowers, let me tell you about my flowers incident….This is probably why I dislike this day. On my first job, I was an administrative specialist in the U.S. Air Force. The NCOs in my unit thought it would be hilarious to get me flowers for secretaries day. When I reported to work I found roses on my desk with a card saying “Happy Secretaries Day”.  I promptly through them in the trash can while they all got a good chuckle over it.

I don’t need one single day to boost my self-worth about my job. I rather have a good place to work with people who have some integrity. Just be a good employee and a good boss every day.  Don’t wait for one day to do something.  I have actually heard a co-worker say “If they don’t do anything for us for secretaries day then I’m gonna be pissed.”   Seriously?  Now we are obligated to do something to maintain these diva expectations?   What about the day you are 15 minutes late due to traffic and the boss didn’t count it against you?  How about those long lunches you take sometimes or the times you bring you child to work because of childcare issues?

All I want is a workplace with people who have integrity and consistent.  I want a boss who will deal with the bad employees instead of just enjoying the paycheck and position while allowing the bad apple to spoil the morale of the entire bunch.  Someone who is not afraid to deal with the slacker who adds the workload burden on the good employees.  Be an employee with integrity.  Do a good job and don’t be a constant source of drama.  I would rather my employer do things such as pay for my parking.  (I have always thought it was ridiculous to make employees pay to park where they work)   Recognize employees for doing a good job or coming up with ideas that benefit the entire company.  Those things mean a lot more than a free lunch on Administrative Professionals Day.

There are a lot of professions that have thankless jobs.  There aren’t enough days in the year to go around.  Just do your job every day.  This is work.  If we didn’t need to work to get a paycheck to pay our bills we probably wouldn’t be there.

These special days aren’t necessary.  There is no need to patronize anyone with a special day.  Just give everyone year-round professional respect.  We should be thankful to get a paycheck.  If you have a good boss or a good employee you can depend on, those are the things that are important.   Flowers, cards, free meals once a year a no substitute for a bad workplace environment.



Life’s Bye Week

I read recently about sports that have “bye” weeks factored into their regular season schedules.  These are periods in a schedule where teams will get extra rest due to either uneven amount of teams in the league or other reasons.   Teams generally use this time to regroup and simply take a break from the routine.

This past week, I had a bye week of my own. 

We got away for a few days.  Away from the usual routine.  It was a good time to get away from work for me.  Sometimes you just need to recharge your batteries.  Clear your head.  Wind down.

That’s exactly what I did.

I spent a lot of time looking at ocean waves and just thinking about random things.  When I found a drifting thought about what I needed to do at work, I would reign it in and reset my mind.  

I have known people who literally brag about how much they work, when they have worked on weekends or talking about how much vacation time they haven’t used.  I just shake my head at these people and wonder if they know what it is to have a life outside of the office.  It’s a scary thing.  It doesn’t impress me at all.

Humans are not made to work nonstop or trudging through the same routine without taking a break.  We all need it.  We have to remind ourselves that, while work is important, it shouldn’t be our life or the thing that defines us.  I remember when I was younger, I would work those long hours and volunteer for extra duties without getting paid extra because I wanted to make my mark.  I learned that it doesn’t do anything at all.  It just gets you more work and, believe me, people will take advantage of that.  I understand there are times and projects that require extra but we should never willingly subject ourselves to it because we want to get some kind of badge of courage.

It is easy for fall into the trap of doing it all but many successful people understand one thing – taking time off.  Studies have shown that you get more done quicker when you step back and recharge your brain and rest your body.  It is also proven that taking time off increases performance.  When you do not take time off, you are at risk of burnout.  

So as I watched the waves this weekend and closed my eyes to hear them crash against the shore, I let things go.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  If God rested after creating the earth, surely I should take a timeout.  

Do I want to go back?  No I do not.  I’m recharged but I am certainly not eager to return.  In fact, I have checked my emails and see that I am going to be slammed when I walk in the door.  You might think I would have been better off by not taking the days off and working so it wouldn’t be waiting for me.  Sorry, but I wouldn’t trade it.  Life isn’t about work.  I was able to spend time with the people that are the most important to me.  

Use your vacation days.  No one gets an award for saving the most unused vacation days.  Americans get far fewer vacation days than many other countries around the world, yet we still don’t take all of our time off.  We’re not robots.  

Here are a few things that you need to do on your time off:

  • Don’t stay home.  If you do, you will be tempted to do chores around the house to replace your time at work.  Go to a place that encourages rest such as the beach, a cruise or travel.
  • Unplug the work devices.  Don’t check your work email every five minutes.  If it necessary, make only set times that you check emails.  Also remember that you do NOT have to respond to emails.
  • Take time to do nothing.  Your body and mind will appreciate being still for a change.  Most people look negatively at this as being lazy and unproductive but it will benefit you later.
  • Spend time with your family.  No one wants their tombstone to read “I wish I had spent more time at the office”.  

I see people all the time that can’t seem to break ties from the office.  Even when they retire, they are still coming back for visits.  They work all their years toward retirement yet they find themselves drawn back to the daily grind they were looking so forward to leaving.  The same is true for taking time off from work.  People talk about it but somehow they still want to be invaluable to their work.  

I hate to break this to you but do you know what happens when the day comes that you retire or leave?   They will just hire someone else and move on.  That’s why it is important that you take care of yourself and take some “bye” weeks for yourself.