Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My State Of The Union? It Sucks!

One of the reasons I have been away from the blog is that I am intensely on the job hunt.
It has been seven months since I was unceremoniously asked to leave my last place of employment. I was not fired for anything but a company cutback and being the highest paid member of the staff after our branch manager.
I have been collecting unemployment during this time, but it is about to run out. In the meantime, I will probably have to resort to doing temp work, which is OK, but not wonderful.
So last night was the State of the Union speech by the Dear Leader, President Obama.
I admit, I did not watch the speech nor the official Republican response from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wa.). I did not watch any other response either.
For you see, none of them asked me how the state of the union is. In fact, none of them know the RVFTLC abode's state of the union is. So I will answer that if they really care.
I noted that I have been on unemployment and did get a fairly decent severance package from my past employer. But even with that combined, I essentially took a seven dollar an hour pay cut. And I am fortunate that Mrs. RVFTLC is still employed. But that means a lot less coming in monthly and the bills, surprisingly, do not go away. Nor are they cutting back what is owed due to the present RVFTLC situation.
The last time my employment situation was this bad was in the mid 1990s. I had to work temp jobs for about three years before I gained a permanent position and spent the last 15 years in the same industry for two different companies.
The reality is that in that era, there did become a stronger job market in the late 1990s. Thus while I was on a temporary assignment, I impressed the branch manager enough to attain a permanent position. That was being in the right place at the right time.
But now, even temp assignments do not get one's foot in the door. More and more companies use temps and do not hire them. For having a long or very long-term temp still cuts down on a company's overall costs vs. hiring a temp. It is why many employees have little if any loyalty to their companies and vice-versa.
It is easy to say that it is government policies that is the cause of this stubbornly high unemployment. Only to a point is that true. A lot of it is that in many cases, companies are doing things that seem to fly in the face of such a goal as customer service.
That is the case in my previous company.
We did medical exams for people applying for life, health and or disability insurance. We would get an order to complete medical requirements, send a California state licensed phlebotimist to collect the information and usually a blood draw and urine sample collection. Occasionally an additional requirement would include an electrocardiogram or EKG. Sometimes due to the age and amount an applicant was applying for, we would have to coordinate with an actual MD.
So first, our company thought, say, why don't we set up a system in which a computer would contact the applicant and if it was during business hours connect the applicant to a live person to schedule the appointment. Surprisingly, most of the time people complained because they did not like a computer generated call. And also, when prompted to connect, why it would disconnect the applicant rather than connect. The bottom line is that most people felt that we were harassing them like a bill collector. And yet whenever this issue was brought up to management, it was totally downplayed and we were assured that oh no, most of our agents and applicants love the system. Sorry, but that was not true.
Then they came up with another customer service idea.
That was to "encourage" people we were scheduling appointments for to come to a local office to complete the exam. Now we had four branch offices in Southern California. Those offices could do anything. But we also had satellite offices which were limited to collecting the blood, urine and completing basic physical measurements. Again, most people did not find it convenient to come to one of our branch and or satellite offices. Why should they when almost all of the time they were told we will be sending someone to their home and or work? Again, it was pointed out to management how hard it was to meet our quota but well, if one office can do it, all of us can.
The point that I am making is that what we were really trying to do is save money. Nothing wrong with it. But the way it was being done took away the customer service aspect of our business. And that is why I think are having problems in this nation in a field that can and should be vastly improved.
Technology is a wonderful thing. Advances are wonderful as well. But to have great customer service, you can't depend on automation. A company cannot keep outsourcing customer service jobs to India and expect people to be happy when calling and getting the feeling that person really doesn't care about your situation.
I'm not a Luddite about this. But there needs to be a balance that corporate America cannot seem to wrap their head around. That people make customer service. Until that is recognized by corporate America, people will not feel loyal to use that company. The employees will not feel loyalty if they are not seen as assets but a warm body. And the very people depending on technology to somehow be the best customer service, corporate America, will cause more and more resentment.
Thus it is harder to attain that kind of job today. But mine is not the only industry facing such things. Many others are as well. And many in many different fields.
When there is a balance of such things, then jobs will be easier for most Americans to attain.
Until then, for me, my State of the Union just sucks!

No comments: