At my department, we are assigned to teach three days per week in one semester and two days per week in the following semester (or vice versa). The Chair of the department always makes efforts to ensure that this system is in place for all faculty members, irrespective of where they are on the tenure track. It’s easy to get used to a good thing, so I assumed it was like this everywhere. However, I just discovered that there are places where you need to get tenure before you can hope for a 2-day teaching schedule.
This is one more reason to appreciate my department. I see absolutely no difference in the way junior and senior faculty are treated (except, of course, the salaries, which is only right.) I have a feeling that I somehow chanced onto this really great place of employment, so now I’m not even aware about how things could have been.
So many employers organize weird events to make their employees feel good about the company and spend tons of money and time on these efforts. The strangest corporate event I have ever heard of was at a huge financial company where middle-aged corporate types of the kind that sleeps in a suit and a tie clutching a briefcase and a BlackBerry had to jump around in sacks to show corporate spirit and a willingness to participate in corporate fun. They were traumatized by the event for weeks but didn’t feel like they could refuse.
However, you don’t need to do any of these things to get your employees to like the company and identify with it. All you need to do is just treat them right.
My sister is a professional job recruiter (you can read her advice on looking for a job here). She says that, in a difficult economy which is not likely to improve a whole lot, the employers who will come out winning will be the ones who learn to treat their employees well and will be able to offer people who work for them something greater than just the salary. She and her business partner and friend have a boutique recruitment agency that is still very young. They only have two employees at this point but they do all they can to make the employees happy and comfortable in the workplace. Here are some of the things they offer to the people who work for them:
a) educational opportunities (professional seminars and, in the future, possibilities to get another degree) paid for exclusively by the company. These are not the kind of folks who make an employee pay for professional improvement out of his or her own pocket;
b) respect for different working styles. Come in late, leave early, dress any way you like – as long as your job is done, there will be no humiliating dress codes, punching in and out, etc.;
c) regular trips to nice restaurants paid by for the company. And when I say nice, I mean really upmarket Montreal restaurants;
d) flexible schedules and regular hefty bonuses.
And this is just the beginning.
A good employer knows that everything is dispensable except human beings. Workers who love their job, understand how their place of employment functions and are enthusiastic about it are priceless. Only the employers who realize this will survive and prosper. The rest are doomed, be they part of academia or industry. This is why I’m convinced that my university, even if it isn’t very well-known at this point, has a much brighter future than many neighboring schools that are more famous but that treat their employees with a lot less respect.