(This column originally appeared in the Washington Times)
Hey, workers, I’ve got good advice for you: Get to work.
Enough with the “quiet quitting.” Stop doing your side gig on your employer’s time. Scale back your work-from-home demands. Reconsider that big push to unionize your office. Don’t criticize your company on social media. Wear the uniform. Come to work on time. Be available when needed. Go the extra mile. Make the extra effort. Work the extra hours. Zip it. Do it. And do it now.
Why? Because if you don’t do these things, you’re going to be the first to lose your job. And sooner than you think.
For the past few years, employees have been in control. There’s been record low unemployment and record-high job openings. Thanks to this environment, there have been countless media stories of workers’ making demands on their employers, ghosting interviews, taking excessive “me time” off, refusing to come to the office, demanding over-the-top perks (really? “pawternity” leave for a new puppy?), working on their side gigs when they should be doing their jobs, making silly complaints about their co-workers and bosses, switching companies without warning and posting online diatribes whenever they feel their employer has hurt their feelings or isn’t doing enough to save baby seals.
All of this has been encouraged by today’s pro-worker, anti-business political environment. The Biden administration has empowered the Department of Labor, the Economic Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board and countless other nonprofit, left-leaning organizations that advocate for workers’ rights to move forward new regulations (not laws, by the way) that make it easier to unionize, easier to report alleged corporate misbehavior, easier to gain employee status and easier to get compensated by the government instead of working.
Even as I write this, the Department of Labor and many blue regions are working on new rules to force employers to disclose pay, increase unemployment compensation, classify more independent contractors as employees and take away non-compete provisions from employment agreements.
All of these rules and regulations have given workers a bravado never before seen, while making it even more difficult for small employers in particular to find and fairly compensate their employees. Like everything else in this world, however, things change. And that change has already begun.
Microsoft this past week announced layoffs. The tech giant Salesforce recently did the same. This adds to the tens of thousands of tech jobs already lost at firms such as Netflix, TikTok, Cameo, Shopify and Lyft thanks to tighter cash, a higher cost of capital and a slowing economy. The real estate giants Compass and Redfin have cut workers amid a downturn in that industry. And — not coincidentally — layoffs at financial services and mortgage industry firms are looming with companies like Goldman Sachs already getting rid of employees and JPMorgan Chase threatening to do the same soon. Dozens of major hospitals are cutting staff. Walmart has dropped its holiday hiring by a whopping 73%. Amazon has frozen its hiring. Gap, Wayfair, Peloton and 7-Eleven have cut thousands of jobs in the past few months.
Meanwhile, and as I’ve written here previously, robotics and technologies at companies big and small are permanently replacing workers at a breakneck pace. “The U.S. may need to add a whopping 1 billion square feet of warehouse space by 2025 to keep up with online demand, but the boom in the economy won’t come with a boom in employment,” writes Greg Nichols on the tech platform ZDNet. “Robots, already prominent in logistics operations, are steadily taking on tasks that previously required humans.”
Is this bad news for workers? No, not all.
The ones who work hard, show up reliably, get along with others, don’t complain and put in the extra mile for their organizations will always do well. Company executives — and particularly the owners of the small businesses that I work with — are desperate for people to help them grow their businesses and are infinitely loyal to those that they care about. And they care about people who understand that running a business is hard. It’s time-consuming, stressful and demanding.
Sure, those “fat cat” and “wealthy” executives and owners make more money, but their jobs are harder and riskier. Employees don’t have to worry about a slow economy, high inflation, increased regulations and finding new customers. They don’t have to risk their life savings and put others ahead of themselves when it comes time to pay the bills. Employers do.
So again, my employee-friends, please take this advice as a friendly warning: Work hard. Make life better for your employer. Take away their headaches, don’t add to them. Be cheerful and don’t complain. Try to say yes, not no. Solve problems, don’t create them. Figure out solutions. Have a thick skin. Contribute. Smile. Show appreciation. Empathize. Do more than what’s asked. Follow these rules and you’ll not only keep your job in the coming months, but you’ll prosper, too.