A four letter word. A particular four letter word. It’s pretty ugly in today’s world. People don’t like to hear it. Especially the younger generation.
It is affecting all of us. Globally. And it is impacting everything we need.
It is called….
Ugly at it’s root…
Work is something that takes courage, consistency, integrity, ethics, and commitment.
And it’s not easy. Laziness is easy. If you have something that needs to be done, it’s far easier to put it off until later – where it rarely gets remembered or done.
Sitting on the couch watching TikTok and YouTube videos gives a domamine rush. It satisfies us like chocolate. But when you sit back and assess the time you’ve lost, consider that this is time that you can never take back.
The ethics of hard work…
Hard work takes years of discipline. To gain any good habit, it takes between 30-40 days of consistently doing that task. Sometimes longer.
To attain work skills, artisans and apprentices for many trades often took years to become good enough to branch out by themselves.
No one wants to work…
Today, the young – and some of the old – don’t want to work. They would rather collect money from a government resource and do what they feel like instead. Unless the company wants to give them unreasonable pay for limited skillset and experience.
The result is that we have a real worker shortage. Our goods and services are delayed. Shelves are barren in many stores. And companies are desperate for workers. They’re even hiring back retired workers to fill the roles because the young won’t.
And those who do work are demanding their companies give them more money than they are worth. Or the company can afford.
Let’s take the economic impact the demand for higher wages has created.
Restaurants – especially fast food restaurants – run on razor thin margins. The bosses aren’t paid millions, but their higher salary compensates for running the business. These skilled individuals must deliver a profit to go back to the main corporation. This money covers the legal rights to run the fast food place for the main company, and gives them the ability to order the specific items required to produce the quality and taste that makes the company brand recognizable to their consumers.
The other portion of their profits and skills is to make sure the money is handled efficiently and not wasted. Part of the profits are set aside for paying the utility bills, building maintenance, liability and worker insurances.
Food waste that is inevitable when customers refuse what they ordered, or change their minds, or the staff makes more than the anticipated number of customers typical for a particular time of rush hour. And they cannot, by law, just give the leftovers to the homeless as it must be available for sale before being discarded per health codes.
Bosses and managers…
The bosses must be arbitrators in employee interactions, leaders in getting the workers to perform efficiently, deal with angry customers, and sometimes fill in when they are short staffed. Yes, even to clean the bathrooms or mop the floors. Health codes must be kept high in order to stay in business, and a good manager assures that these and all the other codes and regulations are kept in line.
A good manager may be hard to find, but when they are found, they are worth their weight in gold. And their pay is commensurate with their ability to juggle all the balls required to run a fast-food restaurant.
Demands of workers…
But when a worker, who used to be paid $7.50 an hour, decides they need to get what the boss is getting, and their skill set is good at wrapping hamburgers but little else, what worth is that to the customer? Or the rest of the workers? Or what justice is then due to the manager for his experience and abilities that the worker doesn’t have?
The government says workers should demand $15 per hour as a starting salary, no matter their skillset, experience, or position.
Breaking down the costs…
- Packaging is roughly 30% of the price of the burger, and eco-friendly packaging is higher in costs for the company than what they had used before.
- The sandwich ingredients, because they are bought in bulk, cost about $1 per burger (roughly the equivalent of over $8 if you were to do it yourself at home without the bulk pricing), but has raised in costs because of scarcity of the ingredients as well as the higher quality ingredients demanded by consumers.
- Add cheese and the profits are reduced about $.02 per burger, from about $.08 per burger to about $.06 per burger – far more now with the rising cost of shipping because of higher fuel supplies, and inflation which is, in reality, far more than 6% today.
- That’s NOT including labor, which has bumped up the costs to cover the additional $3 per hour demanded by the working force.
So when a worker demands $15 per hour to make a burger, instead of a lower wage, that has to be added to the cost of the ingredients and packaging for each burger. What started out at $.25 per burger when I was a kid has now become nearly $4-5 per burger
The bottom line is, just because these workers now make $15 per hour, the price of their fast food selections has raised to cover their higher wages. So their bigger salary buys the same burger at a higher price.
Is it reasonable?
So demanding wages to become higher is reducing the availability of workers. Most of the entry level jobs cannot meet the wage demands. They often find themselves shuttering their doors when they have no one available to work the store hours.
And for those of us who have more experience and skills are now faced with unskilled laborers making nearly the same wages that we worked so hard to attain.
The fact is, there is a demand for everyone to earn the same amount.
Feelings…nothing more than feelings…
This phenomena was first introduced in the classrooms. Children who made lower grades were given higher grades to compensate, and those who earned higher grades were lowered so the less competent were made to “feel better” about themselves.
It is called “grading on a curve”, or the “bell grading system”.
The incentivization of the more competent students fell, while those who did poorly had no motivation to improve. All passed with about the same scores.
It affected not only their performance, but also how they appeared when applying for college entrance. “A” capable students who were downgraded to B- to C grades were frowned upon, while those from other schools that didn’t grade on a curve and showed A’s were favored.
The more capable students felt cheated and stopped working as hard. The less capable were falsely left to believe they were better than they were in their courses and felt no incentive to improve.
If someone worked for $15 per hour pushing a broom in a retail store, and Joe worked for $15 doing computer programming, the two positions in themselves are not equivalent.
The broom pusher doesn’t need to go to college to figure out how to push a broom. He picks up a broom and pushes it. Hopefully, he knows how to do that and to collect the junk on the floor in the process. But it is manual labor that doesn’t require a lot of mind or physical effort.
The programmer typically gains his skill be going through training courses, either through a college or online classrooms. He has to be able to think logically, understand the end goal of the program, and the ability to determine the best course of action when designing a program. It takes quite a bit more brain power and training to do the job well.
Like using the bell curve on grades, the better worker would feel defeated and decide not to work at the more difficult jobs when he could get the same salary doing boring work. And the less skilled worker would have no reason to improve themselves, because they would get paid a set amount regardless of how well they did their job.
Hard work and the self-made man…
Those who work hard and create a business from scratch have more than the income to keep them motivated. They have the satisfaction of knowing that they did a good job, satisfied their customers, and can lay their head down at night on a pillow contented that they provided honest labor for their wages.
If they have worked long enough in an industry, they will also begin to get referrals from satisfied customers. Making a good impression on their clientele is the number one way to make sure that there will be no shortage of requests for your services.
And the income begins to increase as the demand for the services grow.
That increased income allows for the business owner to hire qualified workers who will do good work. They will represent the vision of the owner by providing quality work, continuing the honest work begun by their boss.
And so it grows.
Higher wages don’t mean the earner is evil…
We tend to broad brush everyone who has earned a good salary. And we broad brush those who have worked hard to rise up to the position of having multiple employees. The owner, who started the business, still has to do his job, but now he has to manager the people who work for him and make sure their needs are met.
They earn their wages.
But we tend to demonize anyone who earns large salaries. And that is wrong.
It is fair to demonize those who cheat others for the sake of gain. But it isn’t fair to paint that same brush on those who treat their employees fairly and pay them a good living wage.
If someone believes that high wage earners are greedy snobs who are sucking off their lower paid employees, then they need to take a year and start their own business. It doesn’t matter what it is.
Set up a goal, budget, and figure out how much must be earned to achieve the wage desired.
It isn’t as easy as it seems.
It is hard work.
My wish for every worker…
I wish every worker, no matter their wages, enjoys their job.
If they are a good worker, may they be treated with respect and given an increase in authority as they are deemed capable of handling.
It isn’t always about the money. That isn’t a universal motivator for many. It is the ability to go home knowing that they have pleased their boss, customers, and did a good job to the very best of their abilities.
That gains satisfaction. The wages are icing on the cake.
But if the wages are low, the experience gained can be invaluable. If that is achieved, then it can transfer to another company who will appreciate the value brought to their staff.
It can also be beneficial if creating their own businesses…
Good work, more than high salary, will bring more satisfaction than how much stuff can be acquired.
Strive to be a good worker. Be the best darned broom pusher that you can. When you can show a good work ethic, the opportunities to rise above your current position will greatly increase.
Don’t demand what you don’t earn. It limits your opportunities. And you end up earning the same years down the road that you demanded in the beginning.
You will gain what you put into any job…
Hard work. The most difficult of any four letter words we say.
If for nothing else, practice it for yourself. It will be the best thing that ever happened to you. And to those around you.
And you gain something greater: the earned dignity of a job well done.