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Another of Ted’s LinkedIn Posts

Another good post by this guy here, I have some comments to offer, with quotes extracted I will comment on, but the gist of the post is that productivity has gone up quite a bit from the 1950s, but we’re still working minimum 40 hour weeks.

“So: what does all this mean?”

What does working the same 40 hours – and to be honest usually consistently way more – per week, and being dramatically more productive while getting roughly the same pay in real terms, mean? It means you’re getting screwed big time, because while your productive output has skyrocketed relative to the 50’s worker, your pay is roughly the same in real terms; buying power, or the standard of living you can afford.

“Why are we still so concerned with a 40-hour+ work week?”

Because it sets an arbitrary standard allowing for control over people corporations otherwise wouldn’t get, basically a holdover from the industrial revolution. Managing to performance and outputs would make more sense, but it’s way easier to make sure someone puts in their 40 hours – again, usually way more these days too – per week than it is to make sure they actually do their job well. Plus employers always think a productivity gain means more for them over a given time period. It never, or rarely occurs to them, that people have limits or that labor carries dis-utility, and as such their employees might prefer and expect a little more time for themselves as non monetary compensation, especially considering as their increase in output is almost never matched with an increase in compensation.

Basically when you look at stats and analysis like these, it paints a picture of a labor force that is increasingly robbed of the value of its output, which is usually redistributed to the famed 1%.  Of course, a decent economist will tell you a relative difference in wealth isn’t indicative of a problem in itself; why complain X has five yachts and you only have 1?  However, I think such people are too dismissive of the fact that these wealth differences matter to people.  When you see your boss pull up in a new BMW on the day of lay-offs, it makes an impression.  Plus, I feel people know inherently when they’re being screwed, or when the value they’re receiving is not necessarily in line with what they’re giving in return.

It’s my contention that via monetary, fiscal, trade, and other policies and protective legislation businesses have protected themselves from competition and produced what amounts to a permanent jobs shortage, forcing a devaluation of labor and what amounts to real wages that aren’t rising commensurate with the labor force’s increase in productivity over the years.  As labor gets more productive, it should become more valuable in real terms.  That is, nominal salaries may go up or down, but the buying power/standard of living received in return for work should have a secular trend upward along with productivity.  As that value received has, by most measures I’ve seen, stagnated or fallen, that’s a serious indication that something is massively fucked up with the system.  To the extent you can trust econometrics, George Carlin was right.  It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.  In the waking world, people are working more and more for increasingly lower returns, and sacrificing their health and families and friendships on the altar of 60+ hour work weeks.

Get a Degree?

An interesting post on LinkedIn asked a question: why is there no recruiting degree?  The reason is frighteningly simple: there’s no degree to be offered in bullshit this blatant.  Let’s go through the writer’s suggestions for courses to see why:

Business

A good course to take, but the problem is you will learn about all aspects of business, not just Sales!, which will put most recruiters out of business.

Computer Science, Economics, Finance/Accounting

Excellent choices from my perspective, anathema for most recruiters and recruiting managers. If there’s one thing they don’t want recruiters to have, it’s critical thinking capabilities, which all these courses teach or instill via activity.

Marketing, Psychology, Sociology

Perhaps useful, but again the problem is people will learn things that will expose significant portions of recruiting as complete and utter horseshit.

Public Speaking

I agree with this one, good call.  But the weak links can be seen more clearly in the suggestions for additional courses.  Particularly these two:

Employment Law, and Talent Acquisition Data, Metrics, and Analytic

Most employers except the really large ones couldn’t care less about employment laws.  They refuse to understand the basic distinction between exempt and non exempt employees, there are endless numbers of companies out there that have everyone classified as exempt just to avoid paying overtime.  As for Talent Acquisition Data, Metrics, and Analytics, that might be useful in a corporate setting, but right now recruiting is dominated by agencies, all staffed by people who are outright hostile to data, metrics, and analytics.  They are intent on keeping recruiting a Sales! function regardless of the reality that there is much more to it than sales, because Sales! is where the bullshit lives, and as long as you can make a living bullshitting, why work?

Recruiting is sales in as much as anything involved with needs fulfillment is sales, however it is more akin to a supply chain job than anything else.  It’s certainly those analogies, and the practices of that field, that can be applied to recruiting to help people understand why it’s so fucked up.