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I used to really love my job.  So did my co-workers.  I don't know too many people who could make that claim with a straight face but when we said it, we meant it.  Not anymore.
I work for a communications company; a huge one which some years ago swallowed up the company I used to work for.  I'm doing basically the same things, in the same territory as before but under entirely new, completely unreasonable "employee expectations".
Expectations regarding work output, euphemistically referred to as "efficiency", which essentially means how fast we work.  If we aren't working as fast as the "experts" think we should, we get into disciplinary trouble.
I put "experts" in quotes because the people who came up with this employee evaluation system have never actually done the work themselves.  They have no idea what it's like to climb a utility pole in sub-zero temperatures, or pull wires through a muddy crawlspace full of spiders and rats.  Or climb a fence loaded down with tools wondering if a dog will come charging out from behind the garage. Or suddenly realizing you're standing in poison ivy.  Or opening a terminal and finding it full of agitated yellowjackets. They only know that we should be doing it faster and with less mistakes. The only thing they are expert at is figuring out ways to squeeze more out of the workforce, thus enabling more layoffs despite an increase in the workload.

We are evaluated now on several key "targets".  All the workers in my district (about 200 of us) are thrown into a comparison pool and the bottom 20% in any given month are in trouble; even if you reach your particular targets!  So, for example, if you are expected to hit 98% efficiency and you hit 100% but everyone else hits 101%, then you're fucked.  You're on the list.  Get on the list for three months out of any six month period, and you're gone.  When more workers are gone the workload goes up and the comparison pool shrinks, making it easier to get on the list next time.  The fat was already trimmed long ago; now they're cutting into muscle and bone and before long, they'll be cutting into arteries.
The end result is that we now view each other as competitors instead of co-workers; less likely to collaborate and help each other.  We view each job as something to get through quickly instead of thoroughly, the customer be damned.  
Everyone is afraid and beat down all the time; which, I'm sure, is just what the company wants.  It's all about maximizing quarterly earnings now, not about long term investment in the workforce or the service or, for that matter, the customers.
The margin for error is so razor-thin that one bad job can ruin your numbers for that whole day. One bad day can ruin your numbers for that whole week. One bad week can ruin your numbers for that whole month.  One bad month and, well, you're on the list.
Three bad months and the list you're on is the unemployment roll.  Remember, when I say "bad month", it could very well mean a month in which you reached every one of your targets but where  80% of the district exceeded theirs.
Those of us who actually care about our customers and try to do right by them are the most likely to get on the list.  The corner-cutters and the do-just-enough types are the most likely to stick around and will eventually comprise the entire workforce.  People who don't give a shit about the customers, only their own asses. The careful and conscientious workers will be gone.
There really aren't any good days at work anymore.  Only days filled with stress and fear.

Originally posted to DuzT on Sat May 19, 2012 at 05:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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