One of my first jobs out of college was working at my cousin's convenience store.
I launched out of college with a degree fresh in hand - and no idea what I was going to do with said degree (this was not a thing my college excelled at, preparing its students for the real world). My father, out of the kindness of his heart (and likely not wanting me aimlessly wandering around the house), suggested that I talk to my cousin about a job.
Working at a convenience store was, as full time jobs go, not terrible. Yes, I am not a fan of working with the public, but my math skills got much better (I could make change like a boss) and my job of stocking the cooler at the end of the shift was actually something I came to look forward to. I would put my sweatshirt on, put on my Sony Walkman and headphones, and start loading beer onto the shelves as I listened to Essential Latin. "Tempus fugit" (Time Flies) I would mutter to the Keystone and Old Milwaukee 12-packs as I put them on the shelves.
At one point I asked my cousin why he was always there. "Money" he replied. "The easiest way for me to make money on this place is for me to work instead of paying an employee. Employees are overhead and expensive; I am not overhead and much cheaper." I nodded my head, the way the oblivious always do, and pulled down the pack of Marlboros for the next regular customer walking up to the counter.
I have never been a Twitter user.
I tried Twitter once many years ago when I was going to be a famous blogger who would only be doing this long enough until the contract came in and I was on The New York Times Best Sellers' list, but I did not find Twitter that useful (nor, might I add, did the offers for greatness come pouring in). As a result, I killed the account. Since then I have almost never checked it except as someone else has provided a recommended link. It strikes me as useful for sharing certain kinds of information, but reading about the "Twitter Wars" is enough to push anyone like myself that shudders at uncomfortable situations back into just writing.
I have, however, been following the company itself with some interest since its acquisition by Elon Musk - not from the political and ideological accusations point of view (which - as per usual - is not what we discuss here) but simply from the business model point of view. The company was losing money and appeared that Musk had overpaid for it. These sorts of things are always interesting to me: can the ship be righted to a profitable company.
It was thus with interest that in the course of reading a recent article about additional layoffs at Twitter, the rather astounding figure was trotted out that approximately 75% of individuals employed at Twitter when Musk took over - a mere four months ago - are no longer with the company either through layoffs, termination, or choosing to self-separate. The most recent layoffs (200 individuals, link here) leaves the company with about 2,000 employees out of an estimated 7500 prior to the layoff (not including contractors, of course).
The InterWeb is full of the various commentaries by the incoming Musk and his staff about what they actually found - not in terms of political or social related items, but just in terms of productivity and overhead expenses. Certainly my parents would never have recognized the sort of workday and perks that seem to have been an expected part of the job; I barely do. It is unfair to say that everyone worked that way or did not work hard; it is fair to say that those are all overhead expenses which are at best something that costs money and should be justified by increasing revenues, not decreasing ones.
The jury is still out on if Musk will be successful, but one cannot help but imagine that cutting that much overhead cannot help but to somehow improve the bottom line. I will watch with interest.
The question of adding value should always be in the mind of an employee: Am I adding value? Am I making myself invaluable?
I recognize that in our age of "Me-Centrism", this is often a question not considered. The thought process - at least the thought process as I see it demonstrated in the commentary and writings of others, often a generation or three behind me - can be that employees deserve a certain level of service (for lack of a better word) for them to give their best efforts to the company. The relationship is about myself - the employee - and how I am served and improved, not the employer.
This is by no means to say that employers are either always right or always good. They are not: there are companies that miserably drive their employees or create incredibly unhealthy work situations and justify it by "perks". I have worked in both situations and they are as miserable as the sound; all the coffee and doughnuts on Fridays will not make up for an environment that grates on and destroys the personality and spirit.
But neither is this to excuse employees showing up with an attitude of "If all this is what I deem to be sufficient, I will work at capacity - or really at all".
In times of great economic uncertainty - and I suspect no thinking person can argue that we are not in such times currently - companies will scrutinize every expense. That scrutiny will extend the employees that provide the labor and the costs associated with them. And it is a far easier conversation to have when one's boss can say "This is everything this person provides and how they are providing value to the company" rather than the conversation of "This person...I think they do this?"
Employment - like health, sunny weather, and good coffee - should never be taken for granted.