I must’ve picked up the phrase ‘corporate feudalism’ somewhere, and as I continue working as a serf this situation is constantly reinforced.
Tuesday we were required to attend a meeting that would apparently explain how we are compensated for our work. Not only was it terribly thought out and presented, the obvious illusion-work and statistical gymnastics only ended up reinforcing that we are only paid enough to maximize profits. It is quite difficult to explain exactly what they tried to pull on us without showing you the powerpoint presentation but I will try.
First, they use data gathered from many other corporations to determine pay levels and the average pay for that level. Secondly, they determine what the pay range for each level should be. I am level 4 and the range is $25,100 then $31,000 then $38,000 then $46,000. Level 5 pay starts at $28,000 and increases just about proportionally to level 4. Despite being told that my company pays the national average for everyone, it seemed that most people get paid the bare minimum. It also seems to explain why they are so eager to promote people to a ‘higher’ pay grade. By keeping us at the minimum pay for a grade they are able to give the illusion of rewarding excellence while actually saving themselves some sawbucks. The lesson here is to refuse promotion and its added responsibilities in order to make more money.
Then we learned about raises and were shown another chart that rates job performance to the amount of raise we should get for each level of performance. Since I seem to be exceeding expectations, I would qualify for a 3%-5% raise at the end of the year. According to the chart. But then we were told that ‘merit increases’ are limited due to the amount that is budgeted for said increases. Thus, most people won’t get as much as they deserve because the people who determine the raises haven’t been given enough cash to do so. There are two reasons that this makes employees not care about their work. 1) It sends the message that the higher higher-ups choose to limit our compensation completely independent of our skill level and 2) The difference in a raise comparing a below average worker to an above average worker becomes no more than $50-$100 a year. I’m assuming, of course, that profit motive is secondary to justice.
I call this corporate feudalism because, with each year that passes, the gap between the vassals of the lord and the serfs increases by the amount that we serfs deserve payment for but do not receive. Also the corporation/manor is increasingly becoming responsible for all aspects of the serf life. The office now often has its own cafeteria, its own daycare, its own health care provider. And we are considered skilled labor since our jobs apparently require a college education. As unskilled labor increasingly becomes automated or obsolete, those workers will become a mendicant class. I wouldn’t mind this so much if I was more than a serf. Or if there were still proper knights needed to defend the castle instead of lawyers and accountants.
And I learned the word ‘face-time’ which is when you have no work to do but can’t just leave because you still have to keep track of every 15 minute increment of a workday.
These are the links to other things that I have found regarding corporate feudalism. They are quite liberally partisan, which tends to detract from their worth as they end up sounding more like whiny rants against conservatives than anything marginally more interesting.