No longer can anyone expect to build a lifelong career with one organization, nor is that considered healthy for the individual or the company. A person is now his or her own commodity. He or she must expect to build their own skills and reputation as an individual on the open market rather than as corporate employee number 8675309.
In this Brave New Working World a person should be prepared to say ‘no’ to antiquated elements of 20th Century employment, not only because they are inappropriate, but because they indicate that employer is unaware of their failure to be competitive in the 21st Century. Benefits and perks that were meant to tie a person to one organization no longer make sense in a world where ‘permanent employee’ has been replaced by ‘contract labor.’
Here are ten employment offers and requests that should be declined from an employer and cause you to re-evaluate your working relationship with a company:
No. 10 – Retirement Benefits
It should be obvious that any company offering retirement benefits either does not understand today’s working world or is trying to offer something that they know you will never receive. Better to have the money now and invest than pretend you’ll still be with the company when you retire.
No. 9 – The Company Email Account
You many have to use the company email when corresponding with others in the company, but always ask yourself, “If the company decided to lay me off today and they ended my access to my email account, what information would I lose?” What about that email from the senior executive that ordered you to overcharge your customer? Every email sent to your company email account should be forwarded to a private account and blind copy any company emails you send to your private account. This protects you and the company from the unethical corporate manager.
No. 8 – The Company Car
When I was growing up my uncle worked for an oil tool business and he had a company car. I thought that was the coolest perk in the world. While it is a rare perk in today’s world, it should be declined in most situations. The problem with the full-time company car is that it becomes a liability if a better employment opportunity arises. Suddenly you’re faced with buying a new car in order to accept a better job.
No. 7 - The Company Cell Phone
Many people fail to realize what a company cell phone represents. It is a chain that ties the employee to the employer 24/7/365. A boss may hesitate to call a private cell phone, but have no problem calling the phone they are paying for at 3 AM. Many jobs require an employee to be accessible, but you are better off with your own phone than be indentured by a company cell phone.
No. 6 – Giving Your Employer Your Social Media Passwords
There are questions as to whether it is legal for an employer to demand an employee’s passwords to his or her Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media passwords. The bottom line is that you do not want to work for a company that wants this level of control on your life. It will only go downhill from there.
No 5 – Restricting Free Speech (The NDA)
In an exercise with students in a graduate program, I purchased the fictional company they worked for and I was interviewing them to determine who to keep and who to let go. As part of this exercise I gave each of them an outrageous NDA contract (see Kco NDA) to sign. In almost every case, the Master’s program students signed it, most without question.
A company’s has a right to protect its reputation, but employers should be under the burden to gain the loyalty, trust, and respect of their employees so that they would not dream of talking smack about their workplace. If an employee is ready to bad mouth the source of their income then either the employer hired the wrong person, or the employer has failed to treat their employee as an important asset. In either case, it is the employer, not the employee who shoulders the burden of the failure.
No. 4 - Intellectual Property
If you have been consigned to produce something tangible for someone, then you have agreed to surrender it once it has been created and delivered; however, many companies are claiming ownership of any work done by an employee as their own intellectual property. Nothing could be more disrespectful to a human than to treat them as a machine that is only useful as a tree from which they pick and enjoy the fruit. A business that values their team would never have to be concerned about the issue of intellectual property because each team member’s work would be a source of pride and celebration. The important element in any organization is the person who creates the work, not the work itself.
Before you sign away your right to maintain ownership of your work you should ask if you want your give away your legacy of achievement to those who didn’t do the work?
No. 3 – Health Benefits
America has millions of people who continue to work for an employer primarily because they need or want the health insurance offered by the company. As an employer do you want people to only be working for you because of the health benefit perk?
The biggest impact that the Affordable Care Act will have on America is to free people to work for people they want to work for, not those who have the critical health care benefit he or she needs.
No. 2 – Pay For Performance
When someone attempts to quantify a job or project they sacrifice common sense for greed. The need to meet the measured goals forces an employee to ignore important aspects of work that can’t be measured or quantified. Pay For Performance assumes the Ends always justifies the Means, which is rarely true in the business world, despite what greedy executives and investors think. Almost always customer satisfaction is at risk under Pay For Performance standards because a customers true satisfaction cannot be measured by questionnaires, surveys, nor sales. In every case the wise employee will figure out how to exploit the system and defeat the true purpose of the evaluation tool.
Pay For Performance systems are lose-lose scenarios for everyone and a company that relies on them does not understand how to truly motivate and reward its team; therefore, you should avoid the trap they are setting for you, your customers, and themselves.
No. 1 – The NCA
The non-compete agreement or NCA is the one indicator that proves only fools work for the employer, and there are plenty of fools out there. You shouldn’t be one of them.
An NCA basically eviscerates your career by not allowing you to continue working if you leave the current company. In today’s world that can be a death sentence. Your skills and experience are laid to waste by an NCA and you should never agree to it, nor should you consider working for someone who asks you to sign one.