Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Your Work IS Making You Crazy and You ARE Too busy

In an article on his Salesopedia blog, Lee Saltz scoffs at “full-plate syndrome” (where prospects appear too busy to place orders). Saltz says full-plate syndrome melts in the face of a the right sales pitch. No marketer can argue that targeted marketing has tremendous merit, but – in the current saga of overworked Americans – something more serious is going down.

Case Study One: My friend works for a direct marketing consultancy that has been laying off staff since January. The workload hasn’t diminished, however. It's simply been dumped on my friend, who hasn’t lost his job (yet) .

Case Study Two: This horror story is so dramatic you may not believe it. Believe it. A young man with blue chip undergrad and postgrad degrees is working for a large financial services firm in New York City. He’s being paid $40,000 a year. If he can make it through this freshman year, he’ll “very most probably” get a $100,000 bonus. The real question is whether anyone – even an energetic 28-year old -- can survive what this ageploitation Wall Street firm is putting him through. Recently, he worked from Friday morning to Monday morning on a single hour of sleep he grabbed under his desk. That weekend was extreme, but he does -- routinely -- work from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, every single day, seven days a week. And his boss verbally abuses him.

Anonymous Employee is a website devoted to problems in the workplace from the employees’ perspective (imagine that!). The site says about half of all employed people feel so overworked they’re suffering from headaches, fatigue, extreme tiredness, regular sleepiness, continuous irritability, and even panic attacks.

Another website, decries the 2004 regulations that classify certain employees as "exempt administrative, executive, or professional employees." We all know what that means: lots of overtime for no extra pay.

High-stacking of work onto desperate employees is one aspect of this recession's unemployment that's getting little attention. Think it's temporary? It's probably not. A 2006 study confirms that the U.S. slashed middle management jobs in the 90s. The saved salaries were dispersed to top management. People laid off back then thought things would get better, but many of those jobs were never replaced. Some people went to work for themselves, some sent spouses to work, some took lower paying jobs. In the long run, things added up to working longer hours.

Joel Cutcher-Gershenfield, Dean of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relatons at the University of Illinois, doesn’t see a lot of hope. “In the 1990s, layoffs shifted in many cases from a last resort in a downturn, to a strategic choice aimed at increasing the value of a company’s stock. Given this recent history, there is a real risk of massive layoffs happening today without careful consideration of the alternatives or options.”

It’s a little bit easier to put this one over on Americans, with their strong work ethic. The Europeans chortle at our misery. Writer Rick Steves reports that Europeans work roughly 25 percent fewer hours for 25 percent less money. Writing on TechCrunch, Michael Arrington reported that a conference he attended last year drew jeers from Europeans at the American notion that success takes a lot of hard work and not too much time off.

No wonder we have road rage and substance abuse. People are living in fear and losing their minds. So let’s be clear about stress in the workplace. It’s real. Stuck in a rock ‘n hard place, many of our colleagues are understandably irritable, missing deadlines, finding it difficult to concentrate. In this wicked time -- when there's little else to be done -- awareness, coupled with a little patience and kindness, can go a long way.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

No comments: