Corporate Feudalism

heraldry.jpgI 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.


6 thoughts on “Corporate Feudalism

  1. This is actually pretty standard — the levels and sublevels (which our company calls “quintiles”) within them. However, I do think your company pays crappy… Without disclosing too much, with the same amount of education and experience someone from your company could expect about 25 – 50% more compensation at my company. The set percentage for raises is standard too. A department is given x% and must have their raises average to that — so therefore someone who has done an excellent job will get maybe 1/​4% more of a raise than someone who is just short of being fired…

    This is why our generation is that of the ‘horizontal corporate ladder’. (Which is switching jobs to move up iinstead of working the same job for 50 years, not sleeping with the boss;))

  2. What frustrates ME mostly is not so much the pay itself – I make enough to live off of happily. And there are people who make far less to do far worse.

    I just moreso get bothered by the connection between our shitty pay and our worth in the eyes of management. Our pay seems to reflect their attitude towards us as worthless, unvalued “peons.” It seems to indicate that we are not worthy of making as much as other people across the country who do the same sorta job.

    THAT’S goddamn annoying.

  3. even if it could be shown to be a bald-​faced lie, no one with any power would care because changing it would cut into their salaries. although since a university is supposedly an NPO, perhaps there is another reason why it doesn’t change.

  4. That presentation was disheartening to say the least. It seemed to say that the company will offer mediocre pay with little hope of advancement while continuing to demand more of us. One more reason I will be moving on before too much time has passed.

  5. As somebody recenlty “promoted” from the bottom of one level to the bottom of the next higher, I can relate. Every year the ranges for the levels increase slightly. Every year my raise is just enough to keep me from falling out of the bottom of the level. However, HR proclaims the midpoint of the level to also be the average pay for the people at that level. It’s too bad there is no way to show this to be a baldfaced lie.

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