Kicked to the Curb

By Joe Rector

Isn’t it wonderful to land that first full time job? The security that comes with a steady paycheck and affordable insurance is life-changing. We start off planning to be the best employees in the organization and want to stay with the company until retirement. Somehow, that doesn’t happen as much these days. Too many workers are being “kicked to the curb.”

Businesses aren’t as stable as they once were. They are subject to moves to other states or countries whenever better deals for investors come along. At the end of the week, pink slips are passed out, and workers who have poured years into a company are suddenly unemployed. Many have limited education and few technological skills that might make them marketable as they look for new jobs.

Mergers also lead to massive reductions in forces. Employees are cut loose because duplication of jobs isn’t cost effective. An individual can find himself odd-man-out, even though his abilities far exceed those of the person who has been kept in the position. Politics in the workplace doesn’t necessarily promote fairness. The outlook for a long-time employee is bleak when competitive companies merge into one giant corporation. The move is wonderful for investors but lousy for the employees who have been let go, even though their efforts helped the company to become such a success.

In present times, a meaner, dirtier thing is happening to long-standing, dedicated employees. CEO’s and managers in too many instances look for ways to get rid of older workers. Forget the fact that they are excellent workers. Never mind that they have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their positions and about customer bases. They are old, and too many of them make the company look old as well. The desired appearance for these companies is one that exudes youth and energy. So, the plan is to replace the old workers with young people. This new work force can fill the positions, but can they be as productive? Ask management in most businesses this question, and you’ll be told that too often young workers come with high expectations for salaries but weak or nonexistent work ethics. The training period also is long, and that means too many hours are unproductive and unprofitable.

Some might say that replacing old workers with younger ones is an act of age discrimination. Possibly that is true, but companies have figured out ways around the law. They simply declare that positions have been eliminated. Then they post the same basic jobs under new titles. The companies then save on salaries and benefits paid out to older workers. Meanwhile, a seasoned veteran with years of experience is out of a job, and because of his age, the prospects of landing a new one are slim at best. The golden years of retirement suddenly fade as part time jobs are taken to pay for mortgages, bills, and health insurance.

We all realize that times and conditions change. Companies grow and modernize. Somehow, however, it doesn’t seem right to dump experienced workers in the process. Maybe doing so makes good business sense, but it lacks any trace of concern for humans. Of course, ethical behavior too often negatively affects the bottom line. Let’s hope that those who make the decisions for companies will discover their consciences and try to find a happy medium between profits and human welfare. No, older workers can’t hold back a company’s efforts to growth with the future, but they deserve some kind of consideration after all the good they have given the business for so many years.

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