The Demoralization of a Work Force

It starts with asking the employees to sacrifice a little for the good of the company, first to share cubicles. According to the man in the bad suit, “There just isn’t enough space for everyone and not enough money in the budget for a bigger office.” The man in the bad suit does not have a cubicle. He has a very large corner office that he frequents every few days. “Guys, this is a temporary situation that’s going to take team work to overcome. We are looking at two maybe three months tops,” he explained about six months ago.

Next, the sacrifices increase with the pressure of guilt- just a bit off the top of each paycheck to prevent random lay-offs. The man in a poorly fitting suit and bad hair asks, “Reach into your hearts (correction: he meant to say “pockets”) and decide if you are able to come together to save the jobs of those around you. The solution is very simple. It would only take a 10% decrease from each of your salaries.”

It’s too bad the man doesn’t know the names of the employees to whom he continues to gesture with his hairy, pale fingers. It’s also too bad that his salary is not on the line and no one is asking him to look into his heart (correction: I meant pockets). His skinny neck and oversized shoulder pads make him look like a chicken, flapping his way back and forth in front of his employees. “Understand,” he asks, “that your case loads may go up and you may have more work, but hang in there. Think of the clients who will be helped by your sacrifices. Always remember, without you, each and every one of you, none of this would be possible.”

He is right; it does take each and every one of the employees to keep the ship afloat and sailing forward. Dare to speak up and prepare to walk the plank. The lucky dissenters have a life boat (savings, second job, wealthy spouse) patiently bobbing back and forth in the waters below; while the rest are forced to hold their tongues. The ones who are left behind meet in the shadows to whisper rumors and plans of escape or silently accept their fate of sacrifice.

The final blow is in the refusal to celebrate social work month – so as not to offend anyone who is not a social worker. A decision made by a faceless board to prevent hurt feelings or to prevent the unification of the work force in pride of the profession, and to mar the bond over the joys and sorrows of the field. What can be said of this decision? Nothing, silence is golden when sacrifice involves everything.

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