American companies are requesting more of their employees while providing them with fewer protections and less pay. Not surprisingly, this looks great on balance sheets, as corporations continue to generate record profits while their employees’ paychecks remain roughly the same.
Pay is not the only area where employees feel the squeeze. Workers are finding more demands placed on them, such as having to work longer hours, with the average workweek for many being 47 hours. Some areas—like the gig economy—have very few protections in place for workers, so they don’t receive benefits such as paid time off, access to affordable health insurance, or protection under worker’s compensation laws.
In essence, these workers have the responsibility of a job without any of the protections. The growth of corporate exploitation has pervaded many aspects of the workplace—here’s a look at a few of them.
Finding the imbalance between work and life
Many workers face the reality of no work-life balance with pressure to excel. What’s more, with many organizations using online platforms, there’s an expectation to work even when you’re not in the office.
Regis College referenced a study done by 60 Minutes, which found that more than half of the people surveyed checked their work emails outside of the office. This trend symbolizes how much people work even when they’re not in the office.
Moreover, the culture in some workplaces doesn’t look favorably on taking time off. People forgo taking vacations or sick days because they don’t want to look weak or undependable. Along with forgoing taking time off, some don’t have that luxury in the first place.
If you plan to have a child, the grim reality is you won’t be seeing your vacation time for that year. The Family and Medical Leave Act does offer protections so you maintain your health insurance coverage if you have to miss work for medical reasons; however, the act specifically states that it's unpaid. The United States is one of two countries remaining in the world that doesn’t guarantee their workers paid maternity or paternity leave. In many cases, the worker must take their own paid time off which, compared to the rest of the world, can be paltry.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average PTO for an employee of a private company is 9.7 days after one year of employment. Some companies won’t even offer paid vacation during the first year, treating it as probationary.
Compare this to other countries that have much more favorable paid time off schedules. France gives employees an average of 30 days off per year, while Denmark gives a mandated 25 days off annually.
No safety nets for some
The advancements in technology have made it easy for people to find their niche to create extra income. Now, you can make money driving people around with Lyft or Uber or get paid to deliver food.
The problem with this setup is that these companies are gouging their employees. Food delivery service Doordash is a prime example, as they take a portion of their delivery drivers’ tips. In addition, companies like Uber have rolled out new compensation plans that, not surprisingly, pocket more of their drivers’ earnings with no regard to the wear and tear a contractor places on their vehicle.
Another component of regulation concerns workplace safety. Amazon is notorious for employing questionable tactics such as not supplying their warehouse workers with air conditioning while also demanding that they work through bathroom breaks. On average, some warehouse workers walk up to 20 miles per day.
This adherence to persistent work without regard to an employee’s safety manifests itself in dangerous ways. The Census found that, in 2017 alone, over 5,000 recorded workplace fatalities were recorded in the US alone.
As an employee, what should you look for concerning the right employer?
Doing things the right way
The best companies to work for balance the need to generate profits with sustainable and safe opportunities for their employees. Simply, they’ll understand your needs, pay you a fair wage, and make you feel valued as an essential part of the company.
These principals are some of the tenets of conscious capitalism. Companies like Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines, and The Container Store employ these principals of increased harmony between employers and employees with a focus on improving the communities and environments they serve. In a similar vein, Volusion is proud to offer generous benefits, perks, and volunteer opportunities, leading employees to vote for it as one of the best places to work in Austin Business Journal and Built in Austin.
The key when searching for the right companies to work for is to look for these principals. You can also read reviews of how other employees enjoy working there via Indeed or Glassdoor. Lastly, you should also Google the company to read more about their improving work environments, wages, and/or other benefits.
Overall, companies are racking up the profits without giving their employees a fair share. Along with this, they don’t provide sustainable benefits while also creating a culture where workers don’t want to miss work for fear of reprisal. This creates a further rift between the working class struggling to survive while the rich become richer.