Disposable Generation 11/18/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

For my most avid readers, this post might come across as familiar. In an earlier post, I know I discussed the problem with modern administrators and their rather myopic opinion that younger is better in employees. It’s ironic, actually, that as support for seniors is facing increasing cuts and criticisms of social security and there is talk of raising the age of eligibility for these programs, the difficulty for older generations to find work is increasing. These are not entitlement programs since the recipients have been paying into them for their entire lives. But the reason seniors, like me, are finding it difficult to find work is because, frankly, employers are looking for younger, and cheaper, employees.

I understand this reasoning. Honestly, I do, because young employees can be trained and molded into the careers the employers want while, honestly, adding to their profit margin. But what employers do not seem to understand, though, is that in losing their older employers (or avoiding hiring them), they are losing experience. The idea of molding a younger generation of employers is nice in principle, but, if there are no older experienced employees, then who will train them? In reality, an ideal situation would be to have an appropriate blend of employees, older for their experience and younger for their moldability.

When I wrote of this previously, I was writing from my own experience and difficulty in finding a full-time position even with more experience than I’ve ever had in my life. Unfortunately, today I have a different perspective from a friend of mine. In this case, my friend has been pushed out of a job based on age as opposed to finding it difficult to find a job that was already lost.

My friend was not fired per se, but rather was forced out, with elements similar to my situation where I was a tenured professor. My dean didn’t like me, but because I was tenured, she basically created an unfriendly environment including written reprimands for lies told about me, and supporting a rather extensive investigation over very serious allegations that resulted in finding there was no foundation for them. My friend also has a boss who at least acted as if she didn’t want my friend there.

Okay, some more details. My friend is in one of those jobs that I’ve blogged about in the past where basically employment is with “independent contractors” rather than actual employees. On first glance, this seems as though it should mean more independence, but in fact this boss acted like she was my friend’s owner. She did some ethically questionable things (or worse) to my friend that undermined my friend’s business, for example. Evidence seems to indicate that this was so she could give it to younger agents to increase her own income. My friend has been there for a long time, and some time ago they restructured the income for their agents and put in benefits to make it appealing but the result is that less of the money actually went to the independent contractors and ended up back in the pockets of their bosses. My friend saw this and never “voluntarily” took this “deal”, and in the end was one of the highest paid employees in the company because of this.

For years my friend has worked with this openly hostile supervisor who kept trying to make my friend quit, but Covid-19 made things worse. My friend is one of the best agents in the company because of the very personal and friendly interactions and care for the clients, but with this pandemic, it’s increasingly difficult to see clients in-person. My friend has always been very flexible with new technology, but the job for the past year has not been nearly as much fun as a result of the need to go to remote meetings. Add a third component similar to how they forced my father out and the result is a foregone conclusion.

When my father’s company decided the “geezers” had to leave, they did it by offering a “golden parachute”. This was a lucrative retirement deal, including early retirement, guaranteed income for life and probably cash to boot. That company ended up declining once they lost their experienced and dedicated employees to the point that, although they are still in business today, it’s basically a corporation in name only. My friend didn’t exactly get a similar deal, but they did give a deal that made it difficult for my friend to turn down, giving at least a bit more income.

The irony is that my friend’s boss will still end up with less money in her pocket even after transferring my friend’s accounts to younger agents with the deal that is less lucrative for the agents but more so for the supervisors. See, my friend is one of the best agents they have, with years of experience, and a manner of sales that is so personal that frankly the sales always skyrocket. It’s very unlikely that any new agent will have the same success, meaning fewer sales for the company, and even with a higher percentage going to my friend’s boss, that results in less money.

It’s unfortunate that these corporations refuse to see their self-sabotaging actions. They are dismissing their experienced older employees but don’t want to hire employees without experience, actions that are truly oxymoronic (emphasis on “moronic”). They are cutting benefits like insurance and retirement and wondering why new employees see their jobs as steppingstones and lack any sense of devotion to their companies. Today they’re looking to avoid hiring employees at all in favor of self-employed agents, agents who are free to leave at any time, and cannot seem to see that this model in unsustainable.

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