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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