After spending the greater part of my post-collegiate years as a mere cog in the machine at various workplaces, I can gladly say that I work at two places at which I actually feel valued. I feel like my input (when asked for and when volunteered, for that matter) is actually considered, which is actually kind of astonishing because I tend to err toward being outspoken--often to a fault. It also feels like the work I do is appreciated.
I am tempted to say that this esteem is derived from working in smaller organizations, and I am sure that is probably a large factor. To say that is the only reason is ludicrous, however. Even with small businesses, I have found, in my experience, that the efforts or the proles are often taken for granted.
The reason I bring this all up is that the coffee shop I left for Little City just had a management change and within a couple weeks about two-thirds of the staff walked out. I knew many of these people. They toiled countless hours, often for a pittance, and I would imagine that they felt much like I did after my two and a half years spent there: exasperated, unappreciated, and relieved to have left.
Of the employees who left, many were managers. Many had been there for more than two years. And they walked out. They no-call/no-showed. They walked out in the middle of meetings. They were unceremoniously fired for little or no reason. Their years of hard work forgotten as soon as they walked out the door, replaced with a fictitious revisionist slant on their years of hard work.
The new manager that was hired was the latest in a long line of managers who were either not cut out for the job or were sexually inappropriate (i.e. harrassing underlings or going to jail for possession of child pornography). This one was rumored to have been the first person to turn in an application, which would certainly appear to be in line with their long standing practice of a thorough hiring process with extensive background checks (the sex tourist/child pornographer had videos in which young boys referred to the man by name and was awaiting trial when he was hired), and from what I can surmise, did not seem to value the work of any of the people who worked there.
This really just seems like an overarching disregard for the laborers, and the tone is set from higher up. What worries me is that this seems to be a problem that is not isolated to this one situation. There seems to be a widespread notion amongst employers that the worker is exploitable and expendable. The growing chasm between the wages of executives and peons would certainly seem to be indicative of this. In fact, there should probably be a different term used to accurately describe how vast the disparity between the two wage classes actually is.
Labor and the laborer no longer seem to be valued, and if the worker feels exploited and undervalued, the labor produced will more than likely not be up to the worker's capabilities. I've seen it on the micro- level, and one could certainly argue that it is happening on the macro- level as the country plummets further and further into the depths of recession with the dire straits of depression on the nearing horizon.