Whether the economy is growing or contracting, the heart of every business are the employees that work to see its success. In these challenging times it has become even more important that we review the relationship and responsibilities between people and the organizations they work within.
There are broad groups that comprise the workforce. Employees are generally compensated the worst but in turn have the greatest job stability and benefits (*cough*). Consultants are generally paid much more per hour or project but have little to no job security. They negotiate one project or job at a time, and receive no benefits.
- Complete a project on a fixed budget or timeline
- Execute on the task to the satisfaction of the business
- Work a part or full time shift weekly
- reliably show up for work and execute required tasks
- give notice when leaving*
Expected Responsibility to Consultants
- Define exactly what is needed. The expectation is that consultants will know how to best execute.
- Pay what was negotiated for the project
Expected Responsibility to Employees
- Define what work tasks are needed. The employee should know how to best execute those needs. Micro managers are a path to a high churn rate, and zombie employees
- Pay the negotiated salary, including benefits like unused vacation, or unemployment benefits for layoffs
Although, I much prefer the consultant to employee model (ideally the world would be dominated by free agents), I'd like to bring to light a despicable practice companies are using. Businesses are treating people that are paid like employees, like consultants when it comes to termination. This is both deceitful and illegal.
A close friend described a roller coaster of inept management at their job. Their management has a history of losing money and making very poor decisions, while concealing this from board members and employees alike. My friend went through a promotion, followed by finding out their entire staff was terminated, followed by a highly uncertain future in just two months.
Upper management is attempting to demote employees into unsuitable positions: "forget your years of expertise and training, your new job is to push paper mountains back and forth". Their strategy is to force people to quit so the company isn't required to cover unemployment benefits. While this is terrible, the business is outdoing itself with the following move. They are liquidating all acrued vacation time, and not paying it out to terminated employees. The employees are also not allowed to use their vacation in the interim. How can this possibly be legal? The upper management should be tarred and feathered in my biased opinion.
*Disclosure on my hypocracy: I took a leave of absence at the end of 2008 with no notice from my then full time position. At the time I wanted to quit, burned out, working without a contract and no self direction (but an abundance of external direction). There was sparse contract work during that period so my selfish move saved the company 5 months of my salary. Thanks again to Ralph for suggesting I think it over, the part time income I make now provides me with just enough to survive, live with my life partner Michelle, and pursue my passion of building a business. The situation matches my need to create real value, I may never be wealthier.