The Where of Well-Being; Organizations (Part 3)

Photo by Super Straho on Unsplash

During the pandemic how much have you relied on food delivery? What about ordering packages off of Amazon?

These are just some of the roles and people many of us have depended on during the past eleven months.

Who else can you think of? One person that comes to mind is the security guard who wipes down the carts and has the bottle of hand sanitizer readily available to all that come to the store. Or, the FedEx driver who called us at 10:30pm to let us know we had a package delivered. I am sure he stayed out long after he was scheduled to be done with his route.

In the age of Covid these employees are seen as “essential.” A title that is well deserved. They are putting their lives and livelihoods at risk. Many, if not most of them, are being paid by the hour.

Did you know that according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017 nearly 59% of Americans were paid on an hourly basis.* The federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 has not changed since 2009.

Do our sentiments of calling these workers “essential” match the benefits and care they receive from their employers?

For example, I had worked at Whole Foods during graduate school and my supervisor there was a great manager. He was compassionate, he trusted his employees and was an overall good guy. I was sad to hear a few years later that he had been diagnosed with cancer at a young age and after having just started a family. My old coworker told me that all the staff banned together to donate their paid time off to him so he could undergo treatment without missing pay.

At first, this seems like a heartwarming story. A man who was so respected by his employees that they were willing to sacrifice something that they also needed as to help him. No doubt that this is a story of generosity and kindness about the good in people. However, I think this is also a story about the greed and cruelty of organizations, particularly a corporation that has a market value of 1.14 trillion dollars. The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has had his wealth grow by $6.4 billion during the pandemic. A report that came out in October stated that almost 20,000 frontline employees at Amazon and Whole Foods have had Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.**

Author and political analyst Anand Giridharadas wrote that if Jeff Bezos gave his 876,000 employees — a one-time pandemic bonus of $105,000 he would still be wealthier than he was at the beginning of the pandemic.***

Do you think the responsibility to care for the well-being of an employee should fall on employees who are making about $15/hr to ban together and donate their own paid time off to another employee or should the responsibility be on the corporation that is worth 1.14 trillion dollars to provide adequate paid time off?

Not many organizations are worth trillions of dollars but there are other ways to show care and compassion to employees.

  • Are you receiving wages that allow you to support your family or do you still struggle to make ends meet each month?
  • Is there a huge pay discrepancy from the person on the top to the most entry level position?
  • Do you understand why you are paid what you paid and the steps you would need to move to the next salary grade?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a professional association out of England for human resource management professionals, published an article titled Top bosses’ pay overtakes average worker’s entire 2020 pay in just 3 days.**** Based on their data and analysis they found that top bosses earn 117 times the annual pay of the average worker.

  • What would happen if you had to leave early from work because your kid was sick?
  • How about if you are running late due to traffic?
  • If someone in your immediate family died what would the expectation be for when you would return? Would you be paid for the time you had to take off?
  • Do you have flexibility to go to the doctor’s office in the middle of the day?
  • How would your manager respond if you shared something personal with them that was impacting how you showed up in your work?

In my experience, as someone who has worked both salaried and hourly wage jobs when I have had the opportunity to leave an hourly wage job because of an emergency of some sort I lost out on money meaning I could mean not enough to cover bills. In a salaried job I have the flexibility to adjust my schedule and oftentimes a compassionate manager who is understanding and trusts me to get my work done.

  • Is there adequate time off and sick day policies that include sufficient time for working parents?
  • Do the insurance policies cover your doctor visits or are you often stuck with a large bill until you reach your deductible?
  • Does your company offer retirement plans that would allow you to live comfortably in your later life?
  • Do they educate employees on the retirement plans and encourage employees to utilize them?
  • Do they provide any type of savings match for your plan?

Share in the comments:

Do you have meaningful input on decisions that the company makes when it comes to policies that impact your life?

*https://www.cbsnews.com/news/most-americans-are-hourly-workers/

**https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/01/tech/amazon-covid-cases/index.html

***https://the.ink/p/billionaire-wealth-just-got-wealthier

****https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/high-pay-day-2020

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