I Love This Word:

“Oxymoron” is such a great word.

And it came to mind recently when I was reading this article:

The first oxymoron in the article that popped out at me was this:

“Employee happiness.”

Who in the world came up with the idea that “employees” are supposed to be “happy”?

No employer, that’s for sure.

Employees are supposed to show up, be on time and functioning.  In return, employees get a paycheck.

And maybe benefits.  Or maybe not.

But “happiness”?

I’m pretty sure that when companies look at their year-to-date balance sheets…

“Employee happiness” appears nowhere on it.

Assets and liabilities and bottom lines, yes – but employee happiness?

I think not.

Here’s another oxymoron from the article:

“Fulfilling workplace.”

Who in the world came up with the idea that a being in a “workplace” is supposed to be “fulfilling”?

A “workplace” is just that:  A place where people work. 

I’m pretty sure not one of these…

Ever has or ever will say anything about the employer providing a “fulfilling workplace.”

It appears that the quest for “employee happiness” and a “fulfilling workplace” was at least part of the reason for what’s come to be called…

The “Great Resignation.”

According to the article:

“About 50.5 million people quit their jobs in 2022, besting the prior record set in 2021, according to the federal JOLTS [Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey] report.”

“Most people quit to take new jobs, not to leave the workforce altogether.  Ample job prospects, higher wages and remote work helped fuel the trend.”

So it’s not that people don’t want to work, but because of those “ample job prospects” out there, they’re looking for higher wages and the opportunity to work remotely?

Yes, but – there are many reasons for the Great Resignation, says this May 2022 article:

“The top reasons workers gave for quitting were a toxic company culture (62%), low salary (59%), poor management (56%), and a lack of work-life balance (49%).

“Other reasons included:

No remote work options (43%).
Burnout (42%).
No flexible schedules (41%).
Limited advancement opportunities or career progression (37%).
No benefits or poor benefits, such as health insurance or a 401(k) plan (31%).
Limited personal time off or sick leave (27%).”


All that seems like a lot to ask of any employer.

The employer, after all, only offered you a job

Not a “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part” kind of arrangement.

And those 50.5 million who quit their jobs in 2022?

Did some of them perhaps make the proverbial out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire move, as suggested in this recent article:

“…mental health professionals are seeing a new trend among many known as ‘layoff anxiety.’”

“That anxiety is well-founded, according to Hightower Las Vegas economist Mike PeQueen.  ‘In the last month or two, we’ve seen some very big-name tech companies lay off tens of thousands of people,’ PeQueen said.

“As that happens, layoff anxiety has the potential to become more widespread.  ‘They have to know that the possibility [of being laid-off] is out there,’ said licensed therapist Trey Tucker.”

This could be a lot of…

As the economist in the 3News article said – and this February 7 article reiterates – a lot of “very big-name tech companies” have laid off people:

“The tech industry started the year with a wave of job cuts, around 50,000 in January alone, and there doesn’t appear to be any let up this month.  The computer maker Dell said Monday that it’s cutting about 6,600 jobs.”

And it’s not just big-name tech companies – let’s add Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, CNN, 3M, DoorDash, Stitch Fix, Dow Chemical Company, Yankee Candle, Compass, and now this, also from February 7:

“Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 white-collar jobs in finance and human resources, and it will be shifting some of that work to an outside contractor in India.”

And this, from February 8:

And this, yet another tech company, from two days ago:

Let’s circle back to that New York Times article for more language, not oxymorons this time, but still ideas I find somewhat fanciful:

“…workers say they are not fulfilled at their jobs.”
“…unfair treatment at work.”
“…not inspired by your work.”

My responses to those:

Look for fulfillment outside of work – family, friends, hobbies, take a trip, take a class, take a nap.
“Unfair”?  Life isn’t fair, so why would work be?
I challenge you to find one definition of “work” that includes the word “inspire.”

You won’t find “inspire,” but when it comes to definitions of “work,” you will find these words:

Are we employees – perhaps – asking too much of our employers?

Trust me – I’m not pro-employer in any way.  Just the opposite. 

But to expect to have better pay and fabulous managers and work-life balance and flex time and remote options and career opportunities and incredible benefits and happiness and fulfillment and fair treatment and inspiration and

All from your employer?

All from a place where you’re there only – only – because they’re paying you to be there?

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there.

Maybe we should just accept this reality:

And this is no oxymoron:

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