Tag: employment

Contingency Employment Planning

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Most American citizens are members of one of two groups–the employer or the employee–usually, the latter.  Simplistically, as an employee, you are answerable to your employer; as an employer, you are answerable to yourself.

Again simplistically:

  • As an employee working for someone else, you may have seeming autonomy in some jobs and in some positions, but, actually, you have no autonomy. You have a job to do and often changeable definitions of what that job entails.  You earn according to what the business owner deems you’re worth, and, when that worth increases or diminishes, so may your compensation and, sometimes, even employability.
  • When you are the employer, which includes the self-employed sole proprietor, you earn according to the success of the business and what you deem prudent to maintain continuing business success. (Failure to properly limit your ‘take’ can lead to business failure.)

Are you one of the few who are perpetually employable? Will automation and technology never threaten your job? Will your job never be outsourced? Will every birthday you have once you hit thirty-six years of age (thirty-five for women) have no effect or decrease your employability? Few in the U.S. can honestly say that, and, unless you have some sort of alternative financial support, you might be in trouble, especially once you hit forty, because, no matter how good you are, that’s when employers start looking to fill positions with younger workers. In fact, it’s encouraged, http://fortune.com/2016/05/30/firing-loyal-employee/ (Article has been edited from its original) , as was noted quite pointedly in Bob Sullivan’s article in MSN Money: http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/other/is-it-okay-%E2%80%94-or-even-legal-%E2%80%94-to-fire-longtime-employees/ar-BBtLziB .

In the U.S. since somewhere in the mid 1970s, but especially during the 1990s, employment models dramatically changed. (Alternative PDF: how-the-relationship-between-employers-and-workers-changed-latimes ). Lifetime employment became, for the most part, a thing of the past as companies sought to maximize profits and minimize labor expenses. Aging workers became especially subject to termination, and, today, an older worker is classified as anyone reaching thirty-five or thirty-six, and, by forty, you’ve definitely reached that category. (http://www.aol.com/article/2013/12/24/fighting-age-discrimination/20794477/, http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/11/03/11-sneaky-ways-companies-get-rid-of-older-workers/) Between automation, technology, a flooded labor market, and maximizing profits for stock holders, jobs are harder and harder to find and keep, no matter your education and skills.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, some of us, including me, decided that self-dependency–self-employment–was preferable to the ever-increasing climate of job instability. I left a corporate position where I was highly valued, the CEO actually visiting my home to demand my continued employment with the company after I gave notice and resigned.  Working for myself was frightening, but it proved out, despite having to work longer hours, despite having no guarantee of a dependable, stable income.  But, honestly, when you’re employed by someone else, there is no actual guarantee of that next paycheck. ( http://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/13-things-hr-wont-tell-you-about-keeping-your-job/ ) Everything from outsourced, downsizing, department reorganization, and automation to a fire in the building, a tornado, or an earthquake can put you out of work either temporarily or permanently. In fact, keeping a job long term is tough unless you’re a key employee or ‘keyman‘.  Unemployment compensation is a painful substitute.  I’ve been a ‘key employee’. It’s still no guarantee of retention when a business gets sold or assimilated by another company.

Because of today’s unstable employment climate, anyone in their thirties who isn’t independently well off needs an employment back-up plan, including the potential of having to self-employ. Ongoing education and increasing your skill set are key to retaining a place in someone’s employment roster, but, even then, your job security is not a sure thing. Your best option is to plan for the eventuality that you will have to employ yourself and/or seek alternative income strategies to maintain a comfortable income level from your forties onward. Build toward that while you are gainfully employed. Don’t wait till you get that pink slip and are escorted out of the building.

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Jobs: Many Articles, One Inevitable Conclusion

There are and have been a lot of articles about the state of jobs in the U.S.  Reading them, I find only one or two that actually address the real problem: over-population.  That’s because it’s a tabboo subject; it’s unpopular to suggest that people must stop having so many babies.  When I was in high school, then college, though, it kept striking me that population growth along with technological innovation would, in time, prove to be disastrous for our nation and the world. And, unfortunately, that time has come.  I used to argue that in Economics class; I still argue that with colleagues, though, lately, their voices are fewer and weaker because, 1) their jobs have been outsourced overseas, and, 2) computers and automation have taken over their tasks. Even jobs requiring a high degree of mental acumen and skill are being phased out from a “permanent” position to that of a “permanent temporary”, subcontracted status. Mostly gone are the lucrative, lifetime jobs where you could look forward to retirement after, say, thirty years of satisfying, steady employment with the same firm, working your way up the company hierarchy.

DOING MORE FOR LESS
Technological innovation and computer automation are, of course, wonderful. One person can do so much more today than they could even ten years ago…by themselves, without an army of help. So, pound for pound and dollar for dollar, they and the company they work for make more money, right? Maybe, depending on the circumstances and the business. Mostly, it depends on how the business is run and how much competition vies for the same market…because competition for income is more intense with the increasing number of desperate available bodies willing to do it for less.

REPLACING THOSE EXPENSIVE HUMAN WORKERS
Of course, robotics allow companies to get rid of expensive workers who, being human, are, well, human. Emotions, illness, familial responsibilities, and the need for reasonably safe, comfortable working conditions all add a toll to hiring live bodies as opposed to high-tech mechanicals. Robots are expensive, though. Still, when measuring one robot’s productivity against that of a live worker, robots make a lot of sense.  It takes 4.2 human workers to do the same amount of work as one robot if those humans can and will work at the same speed and with the same efficiency as said robot.  And, of course, you need the tech to maintain and fix the robot…or a contract with the company who makes it.  Still, the robot is still cheaper, especially since a robot can be used as a depreciation expense.  So, considering all the variables, buying a robot (or several) is definitely much more appealing than employing human beings.  And robots don’t need health care or retirement benefits, a huge plus in savings.

BURGEONING POPULATION
Then, of course, there’s the sheer volume of people who need or want work. That makes workers very cheap and becoming cheaper still as population increases.

SHORT TERM SOLUTION? I don’t think there is one that’s politically appealing to either of our political parties, nor one that is practical without closing the borders and isolationism, plus some stringent new commerce laws…such as: to sell in the U.S., you must create the product in a U.S.-based factory that employs U.S. citizens, else pay a huge tariff for the privilege of selling to Americans.

LONG TERM SOLUTION? Pretty easy to figure out: reduce the human population by reducing the number of babies born.