Sometimes I find myself a bit depressed that America doesn’t have the atmosphere it had during the 40s through perhaps the early 60s, when it was a key virtue of the workplace to have companies that were loyal to employees and vice versa. The Family Wage and a career that an employee could count on for decades – if they wanted to remain loyal to their employers, as many did – helped create a relatively solid middle class with families that raised children and knew they could provide for them until the kids could live on their own.
I am in my mid 30s, and after over 15 years as a worker, what I notice is that it seems to be hard to find big and small companies that are interested in keeping employees from their youth through retirement. Of course, by the same token, my generation and the one behind it also seems less loyal to a particular workplace, and interested in switching jobs with regularity. It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario, because I believe a change in the behavior of companies let the young Gen X-ers see that the workplace wouldn’t necessarily be loyal to their parents, so why try to return the favor versus doing what led to greater workplace pleasure (i.e., switching jobs more often to pursue personal and skillset fulfillment). I myself changed jobs multiple times in rapid succession during one point earlier in my work life, some by choice and some due to temporary employment.
So, is there any temporary agency out there which guarantees its employees (temporary associates) work if they want it, without more than a week’s gap at a time? To my mind, this type of organization would be a Godsend, allowing stability for employees who were willing to try different things often and not worried about the stability of a single company or role. It could work by having mandatory reviews after each assignment from a reference at the company hiring the temp, and if the temp met the criteria, they were guaranteed either another assignment within a week, or work at a branch office of the temporary agency or out of the worker’s home with filing, hiring, bookeeping, and so forth. This would allow the agency to have better experience with the associates, evaluating their skills, etc., but also being loyal to the human resources that are their life’s blood. It also shows an understanding of today’s marketplace, where temporary labor is more in demand as companies reduce expenses by cutting full-time positions (there’s that problem again with less loyalty by corporations towards those who want a career).
Aside from unemployment insurance, good healthcare for those who lose their jobs in this economy, and other safety nets, there should be places that still recognize the value of nurturing a career-long relationship with employees, and a temp agency would be a good model. But the bottom line is that loyalty — between companies and employees who demonstrate a desire for lifelong careers — needs restoration for a healthy marketplace and healthy middle class.