Friday, 31 August 2012

The Theology of Employment - A Child's Future vs. A Parent's Ideals

A friend of mine has started down a troubled road that I once turned off of years ago while facing the same resistance that she faces now... This is the result of my thoughts as they pertain to her situation and my former predicament and how they connect to one another, and to the world of young adults entering the workplace across the country (but mainly in my own back yard).

The Struggles: In General

They're not the exact same, however there remains a singular theme shared between them... Parental resistance to a prospective employer.

Many young people at some point or another will face the struggle wherein they find themselves offered a position with an employer that their parents/guardians do not agree with for any number of reasons. What matters in this instance is NOT the parent's reasons for the objection (so long as the employment is legal and the standards align with those of the Ministry of Labour or the applicable local administrative body) but the reason for the individual taking the position.

There are -believe it or not- invalid reasons for accepting an offer of employment and although I won't list all of them, I will list a few here. The reader should remember that first and foremost, if a job is not offering you a greater potential for income, advancement, or a greater level of convenience to the point where it is financially more beneficial to change jobs (or a much greater level of occupational happiness) then the individual should not be making the change. If you do not ultimately gain from a decision, there is no decision to be made. This may sound cold, but why would someone take a job that pays less, costs the same to commute to, and offers the same number of hours if they don't enjoy the job any more than the one they currently hold. This is my "No Profit, No Play" theory.

In any case, that's just my feelings in general, but I've known a few of these reasons to be used by someone making a case for taking a new job, and NONE of them are valid:

  • "But it'll piss off my mother/father/[insert person here]": This is not a reason because for one, you're only seeking to cause a strain and that'll just mean more stress for you. Also, if that person decides to let you make the decision an ultimately doesn't give a f**k you've taken a job for a reason that no longer exists.
  • "There's this hot guy/girl that works there": Mhmm, and if they ultimately never notice you? Also, many workplaces have policies against employees dating fellow employees (and for good reason) so you might be making your chances WORSE by seeking employment alongside your crush not to mention the fact that relationships require space and that working alongside one-another doesn't provide for a whole lot of time apart and quite the opposite, forces you back together which can make work performance suffer during a lover's quarrel.
  • "The store discount is...": This might seem enticing, but there's a reason most employers offer a discount, and it isn't to keep you happy folks. Businesses offer discounts to make a profit, and to encourage you to shop with your employer, and not with the competition. At a certain point it isn't even so much about them making a profit, but about making sure that the "other guys" aren't making money off of you that you're getting from your employer. There are TONNES of people out there in the world who felt this way about a job, made every use of the discount they could, and wound up deeper in debt than they'd been before the job because they never realized that their paycheck was basically being deposited back into their employer's cash register every payday (and with some payment plans, before the money can even make it to your bank account). So you might want to think twice about that 'amazing' discount before taking a job.
The Struggles: Specific Cases

My fight? It was all against an overbearing and controlling parent who did not like the prospect of me having to travel across the city to work. The job I was offered was as a teller at the TD Bank out on townline in the east end of Oshawa. The HR manager of the branch came through my till at The Bay when I worked there (and this was only a couple months into my employment there) and flat out offered me a job. I told her I'd need to talk it over with my family as working across town did pose a logistical roadblock as I lived a VERY short distance from The Bay and that allowed me to work sooner after leaving school, and later in the evening beyond the last buses. Well in any case my mother STRONGLY opposed this job and to avoid a fight I agreed with her side of the argument and turned down the offer. Looking back it was a horrible decision but I was 16, and really hadn't started my whole 'rebellious' phase quite yet. I went along with my mother's 'recommendation' to avoid the conflict and that was a mistake. Who knows, had I stayed with the bank I could've seen a serious pay rate increase, even benefits if I'd spent the same 3+ years at the bank that I wound up putting in at The Bay. Remember this folks, if someone's willing to hire you, and pay you MORE than they're required to, they'll most likely hire you a second time if you can leave on agreeable terms. NEVER turn down a chance if you cannot (after investigation) find a reasonable motive to do so. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is a motto to live by in your professional lives.

My friend's struggle is quite different. She's having it out with her mother, yes, but at a later stage in life than I did. Also, she has chosen for the time being, to accept this job and it is the ultimate acceptance of the offer of employment that has slighted the parent. Her mother disagrees with the new position not being a union one, and that the earning potential is less at the level of employment. My friend is unfortunately not only suffering from a great deal of harassment in her workplace, but the transit time is just as inconvenient and she lacks opportunities for advancement in such a large location. This leads me to the Employment Pyramid.

The Employment Pyramid
Simply put, if your current job provides you with at least some level of Occupational Satisfaction and one other facet of a professional life, you should not be giving up one of the others without gaining the benefit that you don't already hold... As an example, why would you give up a job you're happy with and that pays well for a position you don't enjoy as much, pays the same, but is a longer or more expensive commute? You wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) right? Right. In my friend's case it's true that she's sacrificing earning potential at least with the level of the position she'll be starting at, but she also gains the following:
  • Job Satisfaction: She enjoys the atmosphere and knows the products.
  • Interpersonal Atmosphere: She's leaving a negative and somewhat abusive environment for a clean slate.
  • Potential for Advancement: She's now working in a smaller locale where her chances may be one out of a couple dozen rather than one in a hundred at getting a promotion.
Now to end this post, I would like to point something out... The ideological argument that my friend's mother has raised about unionized vs. non-unionized employment as it pertains to a part time job held by a student... It is IRRELEVANT.

My dad worked under the local autoworkers union for decades and saw how time after time the union would demand more benefits and better pay. This all seemed fine in the microcosm of Oshawa, but when looking at things from a global scale, they were setting themselves up to fail. Whenever they demanded, and received increased benefits from General Motors, the unionized workers made it more expensive to continue employing them. Sure, to a point it was still profitable for GM as the Oshawa Truck Assembly continued winning award after award for things like product quality and efficiency, but that only keep you valuable for so long. At a certain point the costs of maintaining such an entitled workforce surpass that of shutting a plant down and training new employees in a location with lower operating costs. Once this line is passed, facing a union that will not accept a substantial wage or benefits cut in order to save the actual EXISTENCE of jobs rather than the CONDITIONS of the jobs that are already in existence, General Motors could not effectively cut costs at the lowest level (though yes, they should have cut them in the upper echelons but let's set aside THAT discussion for a later time and accept the current 'jungle law' of the auto industry and most corporations) and was financially forced to relocate their plants albeit at a cost to the overall efficiency of these plants and the quality of products being manufactured. You see, during the industrial revolution, unions were a necessary piece of the machine so to speak in order to keep people from getting chewed up in machinery, working ridiculous and dangerous hours etc. Nowadays we see unions fighting for more money, and more benefits and becoming (to an extent) seemingly unstoppable conglomerates that can be all-too-simply countered with the silver bullet of "downsizing" and "outsourcing" meaning firing people, closing down plants and starting new operations in places where they can pay pennies on the dollar for "close enough" quality. My dad lost his job at GM because of the overpowered union, and he's never hesitated to caution me on the risks of allowing unions to gain such power. I thank the fates that he's been able to find work again by the graces of the universe (and through a very respected professional friend) and in familiar pastures with Chrysler. It was a worrying time for quite a while after he was laid-off at GM seeing as I had an education that although we'd saved for, was thrown into jeopardy, and in the end we all learned the lesson that A job is better than NO job at all beyond a certain point.

In any case, I've rambled... And I'm sorry. The ultimate lesson here that both parents and young people should be taking is that:

"If a TEMPORARY job provides for a better foundation for your future (or for your child's future in the case of parents opposing a prospective position of employment being considered by their child) then why should the ideological argument even come into play? Or ANY argument for that matter? If your child is willing to work a job to set themselves up for a better future and they're actually saving money (or their overall sanity) then what argument can you REALLY put forth? Some people have NO job, so if your son or daughter has an opportunity, let them take it mum or dad, it's all part of growing up."

I hope this has been able to help someone out there... It's been written with the best of intentions though we all know where those can lead... Just do the best you can with the information you have available and if you fall down just get up, dust yourself off, and start up again as best you can :)

Until next time, enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

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