Employee Underappreciation

I had another one of those “Oh, yeah, this is why it sucks to work for a small business” moments at work today. I made the mistake of asking my manager if I would be getting my August raise at any point in the near future, and if it would be pro-rated, considering it’s about four months overdue. I said it with a laugh, but I wasn’t kidding.

Sarah hesitated for a few seconds. “They were never planning on giving me a raise, were they?” I asked. She said no, my only raise for this year was when I was promoted to shift supervisor and got the standard amount they pay supervisors. They didn’t expect to give me any other sort of raise until the spring, she admitted.
I considered how I wanted to react to that. No one had said I had an option. Not the owners, not either of my managers at the time. But my options would have been limited even if they’d bothered to offer them: take ten to twenty five cents for showing up on time; take twenty five cents to open the store two, three, four days a week; tell them to shove it up their ass and find another job where I don’t get free coffee and can’t walk to work every day.

This is sort of the icing on the cake in terms of our general “employee appreciation.” As I was stating in a previous post, I’m trying to weigh the benefits of my job with the lack thereof. It is just a job, after all, and it’s not that I don’t enjoy the actual position. For the most part, the customers are okay. For the most part my co-workers manage to show up when they’re asked. But honestly my biggest concern is that I’m not wasting a lot of gas driving all over the city for a measly seven or eight bucks an hour. It may sound silly, but Charlie and I are both really trying to do what we can, as individuals, to restrict our consumption.

In my employment, I’m running up on the third consecutive holiday season with them. The first year I was there we had a holiday meeting to discuss what special things we’d offer for Christmas. We were served Yat’s, a local Cajun restaurant. Last year we had five pizzas between about three dozen people. This year we were asked to enjoy some crackers, a few two liters of soda, and a container of hummus. Charlie asked me if I wanted to have dinner with him that night on his break at the club and I’d said no, they would have dinner at the meeting, so I would just eat there. Guess the joke was on me.

The actual employee parties we’ve had also went consecutively downhill: in 2005 we were entertained at the owners’ brand new Meridian Street mansion with catering from St. Elmo Steakhouse, hired waiters, and all the free booze you could manage. It became clear pretty soon that the party wasn’t really for us; it was for the dozens of the owners’ friends to whom they wanted to show off their latest status symbol. Last year they had some food delivered to our other store. I don’t know what it was because I didn’t go. It was the same night as a huge, national act that just happened to be at Indianapolis’s biggest nightclub right across the street. Several of my co-workers ended up going home without even going to the party because they couldn’t find parking for blocks.
This year, they gave us four days’ notice to have “snacks and beverages” at the store where I work (there was a note posted up when I went in to work this morning). The store which, coincidentally, is just finishing up a remodel. Similar to the ’05 Christmas party, I feel like everyone’s only invited so the owners can show off their financial status.

Pardon my French, but fuck that.

If they want to show off, they could actually practice fair business and ownership and treat their employees with a certain amount of respect. If I gave them an ultimatum: pay me for my service or I quit – I have absolutely no doubt they’d tell me to avoid letting the entranceway collide with my posterior upon my exit. Not because I’m a bad employee, but because they could give two shits about any of us. We’re all replaced easily enough, I suppose.

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4 thoughts on “Employee Underappreciation

  1. It’s none of my business, but here’s my two cents. The other option, which I would likely choose, is stay but don’t go the extra mile. Don’t take a bunch of extra shifts for people (unless you want the money), don’t bend over backward to fulfill an ‘optional’ manager request, and so on. You don’t get giant benefits so you don’t offer a giant commitment. In the meantime, you have a decent college job, you get to walk to work, and you get free coffee.

    Easier said than done, I know. And maybe not even a good idea — I wouldn’t want to get you fired with my outsider-looking-in half ass advice. Your obvious work ethic is commendable and maybe I shouldn’t be discouraging it.

  2. I agree with Shae. The last year or so at the Vogue, I just did the bare minimum to not get fired (which is surprisingly little even for the Vogue, something like have a pulse and show up within 30 minutes of your shift starting). I knew I only needed the job for a little bit more during school, and the job was shitty to begin with. Give what your getting, I say.

    Another Vogue similarity I just realized is just how much cheap ownership can affect a job and its employee satisfaction.

    Oh, and hello.

  3. I think both of you are right. I did polish up my resume “just in case” but I think I’ll probably be okay squeaking by on the bare minimum. Comparatively speaking, that’s still more than some of my coworkers do. Grin. Thanks for the advice, kids!

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