Learning to pave your own level of resilience is key to navigating life’s twists and turns.
One could say we are at the height of innovation, kick-ass workplace cultures, and in many cases kick-ass bosses and supportive coworkers. We are experiencing the rise of the agile organization. It’s the era of work-life balance, open-door policies, flexi-work weeks, technological innovation, fair compensation, employee engagement, cross-departmental collaboration and so much more. But while life may be looking good for some employees, the reality is far more bleak for others. Those employees who don’t have all the benefits of a progressive work situation can learn to cope, but they need resilience to navigate the ups and downs of an unhealthy workplace.
Take the story of Safiyyah Cotton. The dismal employment situation of this single mother and McDonald’s employee was recently featured on CNN Money. Cotton shared that she has been working at the fast food chain for almost a year earning $7.50 an hour, which amounts to $240 every two weeks. She borrows to pay her rent and survives mainly on food stamps and other government benefits. Cotton said her manager shows no concern for fair compensation, fair treatment or employees working scheduled hours. “I came in to work one morning — I had to be there at seven am — and once the general manager came in, around 7:30 or 8 am, and she said, ‘Okay Safiyyah you can go ahead and clock out’.” Cotton said when she told her manager that she had just gotten to work, her manager said labour was high and she was not needed.
Cotton is not alone. Many documentaries, studies and news stories have brought similar narratives to us over the years. One can’t help but think that the more things change, the more they stay the same. You show up for work day after day, but feel as though you are in the Dark Ages, maybe even in an alternate universe. Your salary can hardly cover your daily expenses, you feel unsafe at work and lack the proper resources to get the job done effectively and your managers are unapproachable. Many people buckle in the face of such odds, while others like Cotton keep pushing, hoping that things will change and that her employer will see her value and treat and compensate her accordingly. Only resilience makes it possible for Cotton to persist and bounce back in the daily struggle to eat and pay the rent.