Employers often present themselves as caring, flexible, and understanding of difficult situations. They want you to think this in order to keep you “content enough” to stay.
It’s easy for them to send out an email here and there, reminding you of their “flexible” vacation, sick leave, and maternity/paternity policies. They tell you to “be safe” during holidays and may even give you a small gift as a token of their appreciation.
But do they really care about YOU, and have YOUR best interests at heart? Under normal circumstances, it can be hard to tell.
COVID-19 may just have provided you the answer to that question.
Employers Weren’t Prepared for a Pandemic
No one was prepared for a pandemic. That includes employers.
Employers are used to thinking through every single possibility and crafting a perfected policy and (legal-team approved) response.
But for some reason, employers around the world didn’t have their “Pandemic Policy” prepared. Odd.
As a result, corporations floundered in their response. While tens and hundreds of employees got sick (or even died), your company’s leadership team was likely having meeting after meeting trying to decide what to do. Best case, those meetings were focused on the question, “How do we keep our employees safe?” Worst case (probably the most likely case, but you decide if I’m a pessimist), the meetings were really about, “How do we keep our employees working and profitability high while appearing to protect and care about their health?”
Now you know how quickly (or slowly) your company really can make decisions and change.
Undoubtedly, your company has a COVID-19 policy and protocol by now (9 months later). They have made sure they have covered themselves legally to minimize any possibility of a lawsuit or accusation that they are not taking enough steps to protect their employee’s health.
Are you happy with your employer’s response? Do you feel safe and valued?
How Flexible Has Your Company Been?
Has your company extended their sick leave policy to account for the 14 days needed to stay isolated if you were to get COVID-19? Have they accounted for the possibility of getting it twice? Or will you be required to use vacation time or unpaid leave?
Has your company not only allowed, but enforced, working from home policies?
Many companies are lucky enough to operate at full capability with all employees working from home. Some cannot. For those who can operate fully with all employees working from home—have they moved to that remote option? For those who cannot support 100% of employees working from home—have they made sure the employees who can, do so? Have they implemented policies that make essential employees feel safe?
Or have they blatantly ignored the risks associated with COVID-19? Do they continue to enforce, or even “encourage” (which we all know is more than encouragement, when it comes from your employer) showing up at the office?
Does your employer acknowledge and support the full-time employees who suddenly must also function as full-time stay at home parents and full-time teachers? Have they provided an adequate response for all of those employees in that situation? Or are you left to “figure it out” with your spouse—if you are lucky enough to have a partner during this situation. What are all of those single parents doing?
Do you get any say in your company’s COVID-19 response?
Your company may have thanked you for your service, or given you small gifts in appreciation. But did they ask if you approved of their response? Did they ask if you would keep supporting them if you didn’t need their paycheck for survival?
Does it seem wrong that a few people get to make the decision for the many when it comes to a life-threatening situation? We like to think that we make our own choices, and take our own risks, but it appears someone else higher up is making those decisions for us in this situation.
By now it has become clear to employees whether their employer cares about them or not. You would think people would vote with their feet and leave if they realized their employer does not care about them.
But the reality is, they can’t. If you rely on a paycheck to put food on the table and a roof over your head, quitting your job isn’t a possibility. And it is a very difficult market to find a new job. You may feel lucky you have a job at all.
Is your relationship with your employer like an abusive relationship? Wanting to leave the relationship, but fearing for your survival if you try?
Financial Freedom is the Solution
If you’re like me, you’re angered by this situation. But you’re also powerless.
What’s the solution? You already know my answer. Financial freedom, of course. It’s the only way to be free to leave your employer if their response to crisis is lacking.
Many people scoff at the concept of financial freedom because they think it means people just don’t want to work. Financial freedom doesn’t mean you have to stop working. But you can if you want to.
If there’s suddenly a worldwide pandemic that is life-threatening, and even can have unknown long-term health consequences, what would you give to have financial freedom? What would you give to be able to choose whether or not your job is worth risking your one life for every day?
I think this pandemic, while terrible, has been a wake-up call to employees around the world. Employers can’t just hide behind perfectly crafted emails or bribe you with bonuses or gifts. Their actions, and the implications of those actions, have become abundantly clear to employees around the world.
As you see your colleagues get sick, and the reported positive cases rise every day at your company, are you satisfied with your employer’s response?
The silver lining of this terrible situation may be that it inspires everyone to take a look at their financial situation, and see their wealth as the answer to their freedom (or lack thereof).
COVID has revealed your employer’s true colors—do you like what you see?