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Are Career-Minded American Workers Headed for Tent City?

Are Career-Minded American Workers Headed for Tent City?

How can a dedicated employee spend twenty-five years working for various employers and have relatively nothing to show for it at the end of their career? This is a very important question with answers that are disheartening, especially if you subscribe to the American Dream.

In our day we are seeing well-respected business people who devoted themselves to companies over the past quarter Century finding themselves in a financial quandry.  The scenario goes something like this:

After graduating from business school and working for five years, Susan, a dedicated corporate public relations professional, finds herself unemployed due to financial cutbacks. After several months of looking for a job, taking advantage of unemployment and hesitantly tapping into her retirement savings, she survives long enough to land another position.  Eight years later the same scenario happens to her due to no fault of her own. It was a bad economy, financial cutbacks and her safety net had to be tapped again.  Fast forward several years and now Susan is approaching the age of fifty.  She finds herself with a job, renting a home, and very little in retirement savings due to several corporate job cutbacks, layoffs, financial setbacks, and fledgeling retirement investment returns.  The viscous cycle of on and off employment has eroded her confidence in the American Dream.

In a recent Great Place to Work® blog article by Lisa Ratner, director of business development team and blogger for Great Place to Work®, she finds herself musing about the current state of corporate America and how little its leaders have taken responsibility for their dedicated workforce:

It has been difficult for me to listen to the news these past few years, and to watch as more and more people lose their jobs, their homes, and their retirement funds. I have especially been disheartened by corporate America and the lack of responsibility taken when it came to the very people who garnered the company’s success in the first place–the employees. I feel as though I have watched the American dream begin to dissolve right in front of me. I am also not alone; it seems that more and more people are finding their voice and exclaiming that they, too, feel some aspects of corporate America are unjust and require great improvement.

My mission at The People Group has been to create greater awareness of the positive results of creating Great Workplaces based on trust and respect.  The Great Place to Work Institute has been at the forefront of communicating this message.  The Great Place to Work Institute has performed a wonderful service for our country. When employers treat employees well, everybody wins; employees, families, customers, companies and society.

Due to the lack of financial stability, cities like Sacramento, California are seeing tent cities pop-up as a means to cope with high cost of living and sporadic employment opportunities. There needs to be a societal change that holds employers more accountable to their actions. The legal, but unethical, abuse by corporations of employment at-will is detrimental to the fabric of our society’s current and future landscape.

It has been proven that Great Workplaces are much better corporate citizens.  The time for Certified Great Workplaces has come.

The future financial condition of American workers could be quite bleak if we do not change the system from the  inside-out. It is a matter of the heart of a corporation.  Otherwise, we may be less financially secure in our senior years vs. when we were seniors in college.  Tent cities could be popping-up in a neighborhood near you if we do not make changes.

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


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