A sad story about a woman who died from sleeping in her car while waiting for her next shift at a Dunkin’ Donuts. Carelessness aside, her struggle to make a living wage was real. Because many store owners don’t want to pay full-time benefits, many employees in the service sector have to work short shifts and fluctuating hours.
I started working since age 17. In my young adult life, I had worked as a server, cashier, greeter, sales rep, and various customer service roles. At certain points of my school life, I had to juggle two jobs (or one job and an unpaid internship) with my full-time coursework. Fortunately, I completed my degrees and was able to end the cycle of working many part-time jobs.
Not everyone has the opportunity that I had to obtain higher education and a white collar job. Indeed, new jobs are slowly coming back after the recession. However, the majority of job growth is in the lower-paying positions. The trend of short-term employment reinforces the ‘disposable employee model‘ where many workers faceincome uncertainty and zero job security.
Why should employers pay above the minimum wage?
To stay innovated. Find a way to distinguish your goods and services in the competitive market while treating your workers with respect.
It’s so easy to cut payroll without thinking about the real problem with the business. Investing more in the employees forces the employers to not just act like everyone else. Many successful companies adapted this model to do something different and amazing.
To make customers happy. Enough said.
Pay and train workers right to ensure the quality of customer service. I do most of my shopping online now to avoid poor customer service at the stores. Why complain when you know the store manager has no control over the environment where the workers barely make ends meet and receive minimal training?
To improve productivity. People simply care more when their hard work is recognized and rewarded.
Have you ever worked with someone so great that you can trust him/her with your whole department while you’re on vacation? That’s the essence of the Container Store’s hiring philosophy: “1 Great Person= 3 Good People”. Hire someone great, not just another warm body that is disposable. And yes, it is as horrible as it sounds.
To keep the best workers. They are your brand representatives and ambassadors. They remember your customers by name.
Employee turnover is very costly, especially when replacing the high performers. See how the coffee-house giant Starbucks is vamping its compensation structure and work policy to avoid losing the best employees.
Do you agree it’s time to give America a raise? If so, sign the petition!
Unpaid internship is sadly an accepted form of employment in the US. Younger generations are paying a lot more for career preparation than ever before. “U.S. companies have been cutting money for training programs for decades, expecting schools and workers to pick up the slack.“ College students have to pay for school, training, and internships. What do employers do? They complain about talent shortage.
Here are some empty promises from unpaid internships:
- “You get college credits”: Yes, but interns may or may not get the ‘education’ or ‘experience’ that’s worth the price of those credits. They might as well take another elective course with greater rewards. Students are actually paying for unpaid internships_think about the costs of transportation, insurance, and lost wage.
- “This internship may lead to a job”: That’s not an official job offer. And it is illegal for a company to use internship as a trial period. Why would they pay their interns in the future to do exactly the same thing when they can get away with hiring a new, unpaid intern? Even if an intern does land a job, s/he will probably soon discover the company’s lack of respect for employees in other areas or other unethical ways of cutting operating costs.
- “Use it to build your resume”: Have you seen the increasing number of entry-level job postings that require ‘3-5 years of experience’? More and more companies are turning entry-level jobs into internships and advertising their professional jobs as entry-level positions. In fact, not every company and hiring manager will value an unpaid internship experience and the new graduate’s first salary offer may be significantly lower than the average because ‘that’s not a real job’.
- “It’s a great experience”: It really depends. Some companies offer structured and thoughtful internships where interns can gain real experience, including training, final deliverables, and networking opportunities with industry professionals. Some of them just ask interns to do whatever tasks that no one wants to do, a.k.a any administrative, tedious or manual tasks that require little intellectual power (It’s a different story when they’re paid to do those tasks. That’s called ‘part of the job’. ).
Here are three reasons we should fight against unpaid internships:
- Unethical: Why would you work for free for 3 to 6 months for someone who’s making money out of you, possibly someone who you’ve never met and may never meet during the entire employment? And 99% of the time you won’t know their profits and where they spend the money. It doesn’t make sense. It is just wrong.
- Unsustainable: With tuition hikes happening almost every year, students are struggling to keep both their brains and wallets full. Parents are picking up the tab so their children can get the experience they need for their career. If the student is not getting enough financial support for education and college expenses, s/he is very likely to get money via other means (a part-time job or loan) in order to stay self-sufficient during an unpaid internship. Higher education is the most viable way for us to sustain the knowledge economy. The last thing we need is to make it harder for students to get the education they need to grow our economy.
- Unproductive: Even though many unpaid interns still work very hard to earn their stripes, an exploitative program like unpaid internship may not generate as much savings as expected for the employers. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The hidden costs of morale, reputation, potential lawsuits, health issues will incur at the employer or the society’s expense.
Join the fight to end unpaid internships by supporting the Fair Pay Campaign!