At a recent job interview I was asked about my flexibility to work evenings, weekends and holidays – on top of the 40 hour work week. “This is a twenty-four-hour, 365-day job,” said interviewer. If I was trying out for press secretary for the President of the United States I wouldn’t have blinked. If I was applying for the position of Britney Spears’ publicist I would have already planned my going away party, just in case I had to join Team Britney right then and there. But for censored company ? Eh.
I’ve had ridiculous schedules before. My first job was in a newsroom, which teaches you a bit of discipline. Especially when your day starts at 5:00 am. But that is expected. The night of the 2000 elections I got home at 4am only to go back at 7am (I was laid off few months later). I worked late nights, evenings and hosted events at a not-for-profit center. I remember one late night I left work to stay the night with my father at the hospital. I remember I took work with me that night because the doctor interrupted me to tell me that my dad only had three months to live. My dad outlived that job, I was laid off four months later. That didn’t stop me from being on call, working weekends and holidays for my next job or the one after that.
I’ve always worked hard. Always stayed late. When the job required it. Not to show off or kiss ass. When necessary.
But, to the interviewer, I enthusiastically said I would devote my life to censored company. But I understood that this line of questioning had nothing to do with my schedule, really.
I felt like they were masking the real question with this broad, ridiculous veil of “flexible schedule.” All they really wanted to know was if I was married, if I had children, if I was planning on having children, if, perhaps my egg was being fertilized right there, during the interview.
Don’t worry. They didn’t ask. Directly. They didn’t have to. I grabbed my womb all of a sudden and with faux tears in my eyes I said, “Oh my Jewish God! I just felt my ADHD baby kick! What a special day! If only my baby daddy was not in jail. Oh, but don’t tell my husband, he thinks it’s his. It’s what keeps him going in Afghanistan.”
I didn’t get the job. But here’s what I did get.
The so-called employer’s market must come to an end. Because an employer’s market that consists of hiring $65K talent at a $30K rate and requiring them perform the function of three positions within an 80 hour work week is two minutes from indentured servitude. Soon they’ll come to their senses. Soon. When they realize that employees are human. Not robots. That they procreate. They have mundane problems. They have other humans they care about. That they like to take vacations. Otherwise they will have a bunch of mutinous, bitter former middle managers with bad credit from failed mortgages and repo’d cars, that carry out office romances because those are the only other humans they see. Eventually, these employees will become exhausted of taking unnecessary crap and will happily report their employer to the EEOC, HR, the Department of Revenue, the IRS and Help Me Howard.
All of this drama can be avoided.
Simply treat people well. Respect their professional lives as much as their personal lives. A happy workforce is one that is productive, passionate, responsible, proud of their work. An unhappy one is just a group of people who are forced to work.