Does your boss like you?
Do they smile when they see you strolling in the front door, even though you’re arriving two hours late? Do they chuckle when you sneak out the back door, even though you’re leaving two hours early?
In other words, do they put up with all your nonsense, even though your performance is spotty and your attitude is not much better?
Put it together and I’d say — yes, your employer likes you. In fact, they like-like you. But that’s not because they see you as an asset. It’s because they see you as inventory.
It’s a strange situation, and it may not last forever, but according to “Companies Hoarding Workers Could Be Good News for the Economy,” a recent article by Jeanna Smialek and Sydney Ember in The New York Times, employers are committed to hanging on to their employees, even those employees who — as they say in HR — stink.
The authors provide an example by describing the situation at Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria in Provo, Utah, where managers “avoid firing employees at all costs.”
It’s easy to imagine how a pizza maker could commit a fireable offense: Using ground squirrel on a sausage pizza. Delivering a pepperoni pizza to a Buddhist Temple. Substituting tomato sauce with motor oil. If you think this behavior would result in a pink slip, think again. At Fat Daddy’s, even workers who show up drunk are not fired; they are “sent home to sober up.” After which, one assumes, they are welcomed back with a promotion, a raise and a Best Day Ever Cookie Bundle.
The reason for the forgiving nature of companies today is not that the mighty lions of management have suddenly discovered their inner pussycats. It’s because they’re afraid that in a faltering economy, with employees quietly quitting, and noisily quitting too, even replacing a terrible worker will be difficult, if not impossible.
As Julia Pollak, chief economist at the career site ZipRecruiter says, “companies are still confronting this enormous churn and losing people. They’re definitely hanging on to workers for dear life just because they’re so scarce.”
The level of commitment to keeping workers, no matter how much work they actually do, is quite stunning. In the case of Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria, even when facing in an economic downturn, management is “looking for other ways to trim costs.”
“Their first resort would be to cut hours,” Smialek and Ember report, while “the second would be to take pay cuts themselves.”
If management puts cutting their own salaries before cutting you, it’s clearly time to stop trying to make yourself into someone an employer would promote and focus on making yourself someone an employer would hoard.
Sound difficult? I can help.
No. 1: Work less. Sit more.
Forget living your vision as a dynamic, energetic go-getter. Instead, vision yourself as a lowly, recycled printer cartridge sitting on the top shelf in a cavernous Amazon warehouse. With this mindset, you’re not jumping up and down with new ideas or racing to your manager with requests for more responsibility. Instead, you’re sitting quietly in place, gathering dust.
Someday a robot arm will come along and pluck you, box you and ship you, but until that happens, you don’t budge. You won’t be perceived as a great employee, but you will be known all up and down the org chart as one hell of a printer cartridge.
No. 2: Make yourself easy to store
Storage space is expensive. By shrinking the size of your corporate footprint, you’ll be more likely to be chosen for a place in the employment deep freeze. Reduce your workspace to a minimum. By giving up your desk and chair, you should be able to move your office to the cabinet under the break-room sink. You might also ask IT to exchange your fancy, portable computer for an Etch-A-Sketch.
Remember — you don’t want to use a portable. You want to be a portable.
No. 3: Change your name to an inventory number
Nothing says “I’m storable” like a QR code on your forehead.
If all else fails and your manager still treats you like an employee, don’t despair. You can always find work at another booming business in Provo, Utah. The Utah State Hospital is “struggling mightily” to hire workers by “raising pay and loosening recruitment requirements.”
Best of all, when it comes to getting hired, you have a definite advantage. After working in your current job, if there’s one place you’ll feel right at home, it’s a psychiatric hospital.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.