As you, my faithful readers, know, I have been unhappy with my current state of employment for quite a while. I am almost embarrassed to note that as of next month, I will have been at Current Employer for longer than I’ve been with any other employer, and I’ve been unhappy with it for most of that time.
While I’ve been casually putting feelers out for a while, I haven’t been die-hard searching until the last couple of weeks. Even now, when I am checking out postings about every day, and sending resumes and (ever-useless but still required) cover letters, I can’t say that I am searching hard-core.
Most of this has to do with the fact that I’m not sure that the job I want exists. I did some soul-searching a while ago about my “ideal” job, and it doesn’t seem to exist in our current market. Now that I’ve done the work and know what that “ideal” is, I’m not terribly interested in settling for something that is far less than that picture. I don’t think that I’m being terribly picky…but I do think that our current work culture is set up all wrong.
Here’s what I want:
I want to work for an organization that actually does something to help people, and isn’t just focused on selling a bigger widget. This doesn’t mean I am against making money – I’m not – but it needs to be as a sideline. I don’t think that people are best served by “bottom line” and “right sizing”. If a service is provided, that is of value and doesn’t screw the customer, and happens to make money on the side, then I’m all good.
This does not necessarily mean that I am only interested in non-profit. I work in non-profit right now, and it could not be further from non-corporate. I need an organization that is friendly, willing to work with and listen to its customers and employees, and always do its work in the best interest of those it’s trying to serve.
Task Based/Not Time Based
I think one of the things that annoys me most about my job is that what I do can generally be accomplished in less than two hours per day, and I spend the rest of my time trying to look busy without looking like I’m engaging in no-nos (like talking to my fellow employees, surfing the web, etc). Having me sit here do nothing is a total waste of time. I don’t mind working full time if I have 40 hours of work to do, but when I have ten hours, the other 30 are a waste to me and the organization.
Why don’t more companies go for the task-based job? If a job takes 20 hours, then you get paid for 20 hours and go home. If it takes 40 hours, you put in your 40 hours and go home. If part of the job means that you need to be “available”, then you have a cell phone or Blackberry so that you are “available” for that time – but that doesn’t mean that you have to sit at a desk in a neutral location desperately trying to look busy.
Flexible/Work Life Balance/Self-Accountable/Time Off
This goes hand in hand with the above. Not only do I want to only be at work for the time it takes me to do the job, but also have an option to work from home (if I am not able to make it into the office due to swelling), and be able to make my hours work for me. If I have a doctor’s appointment at 9:00 a.m., then I get in at 11:00 a.m. and it’s no big deal. Again, because I am responsible for getting my job done, I might be there into the evening. As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter when I am there. Also, there needs to be adequate time off (although that definition changes a bit when you have the flexibility to take care of business when it needs to happen). And by time off I mean time off…no one is calling on the cell, and your vacation is not compromised. The lack of vacation time for Americans is a whole other rant that I’m not getting into today.
Casual Work Environment
It’s more than being able to wear jeans to work. Although, that would be nice. In my ongoing struggle to wear natural fibers and start to make my own clothes, I have a feeling that a lot of what I wear it not going to be “workplace appropriate”. (For example, Sarah’s employer forbids “knit fabric”. That doesn’t leave much to wear on top if you want to remain itch and polyester free.) So, acceptance of non-traditional business wear is key.
It would be nice to work in a place that’s got some character, maybe windows that open, with some plants and personal touches. Also, a place where team building isn’t just company-proscribed activities, but getting to know your co-workers and care for them on a personal basis, without being “disciplined” for being “excessively chatty” (a problem that I, the extrovert of extroverts, have had with almost every single job I’ve ever had…even though it doesn’t affect my job performance. In fact, one of my co-workers at Current Employer was just move because she and I dared to have a personal relationship. Those are frowned upon here.)
I also need an environment that’s accepting and nurturing. Again, I’m going off the example of Current Employer – unless your personal philosophy mirrors that of the company, don’t share it. Expressing opinions is not ok. Having ideas different from the mainstream is not ok. Expressing your personality is not ok. You are here to be a drone, and a drone you shall be. Don’t be interesting, and for the love of FSM don’t have an opinion.
Of course, while some of the problem lies with Current Employer and their philosophy of being an employer/taskmaster, a lot of the problem lies with the fact that my co-workers are just not my kind of people. On average, the person that works here is a middle-aged woman that lives in the suburbs….way out in the suburbs. They drive SUVs and mini-vans, shop at Wal-Mart, and haven’t set foot in anything locally owned…possibly ever. The average person here thinks I’m “weird” for not eating processed food, a “hippie” for making my own clothes/shopping locally/hating big business/bringing my own bags places/thinking we need better mass transit in the city and not just from the ‘burbs to downtown/living in the city and having no intention of ever, ever moving to the suburbs. They have been told that this job is the best they are ever going to get, and they are complacent about how they are being treated. They would never speak up for themselves, or find another job. Loyalty here is very high (and I haven’t been able to figure out why.)
I don’t think I’m asking too much – it comes down to: treat me like a human and valuable member of your staff. Don’t waste my time and I won’t waste your money. Accept and embrace that I am an individual, and I will do the same. Don’t be evil.
Why is it so hard to find something that fits these criteria? And am I alone in thinking that our current culture is not the best for getting quality work out of people? How have other people learned to live with this real person/work bullshit dichotomy? Suggestions are encouraged!!!