Friday, February 17, 2017

Employees and Businesses: Against Their Own Best Interest

Sometimes it feels like workers (and businesses) are fighting not for but against themselves and their best interests.

In an age where automation is becoming more and more prevalent, higher wages are demanded and less customer service is delivered. In an age where more and more consumers are concerned with a breadth of selection and pricing (e.g. Amazon) companies make their businesses into a social statement sure to offend some level of their customer base.

In other words, in an age of clear economic trends, both employees and an employers are doing everything in their power to make themselves irrelevant.

As an employee, if I want to stay employed my job is to provide better, more knowledgeable service, to increase my value to my employer and therefore to the company – not demand it as a virtue of my appearing at work. As an employer, my job is to grow my customer base, not find ways to cut it off. And certainly in either case, my job is not to get anyone to pause and think that perhaps they could make do without my services.

I am certainly not an economist and so do not know that I could describe it in economic terms. That said, what the difference seems to be is a value that I believe I provide through my work/service/product versus a value I believe I derive simply from being in the marketplace. The first is a reward for effort; the second is a reward for existence.

I can say with certainty that such persons and businesses are always caught behind the curve when the bad thing happens: when automation replaces their job; when their revenue drops off a cliff, when an upstart competitor flies past them. There is a certain (almost predictable) amount of surprise, followed by an inevitable cry of “It is not fair”.  But in these cases “fair” has very little to do with it. Consumers, be they individuals or corporations, guard their money with care and spend it grudgingly. The employee or business that wishes to be successful should be searching for reasons to convince them to spend their money, not come up with ways to remind them to hold on to it.

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