Monthly Archives: June 2011

McJob Burn Out

I couldn’t help but notice recently of a fascinating trend taking over my country: A McJob Sensation!  Yes, that’s it.  Americans from far and wide, young and old (but perhaps mostly young), black and white (but perhaps mostly disadvantaged), Jew and Gentile are flocking by the hundreds to McJob openings all across the country.  Fights are breaking out, eager applicants rejected, and a few lucky rascals finally hired for a chance at the big time and the possibility of having their own little “McFranchise” someday!  (A very slight possibility….)  The only downside is the fact that these positions barely keep you dangling in the working class, and as for health benefits, 401K, or paid vacations, forget it!  The overhead would run amok if McEmployers provided them.  But oh well….  In the scarcity of more middle management jobs – or any job for that matter – who’s complaining?

Who’s complaining….  Should I be complaining?  Is the McJob thing really as bad as American culture often rants about?  And that’s precisely what I’ve been wrestling with….

I have on several occasions spoken with folks from the “higher echelons” of our work force, and while the pay is often better they confess; the benefits, perks, sick leave, and retirement superior; and the prestige nothing to laugh about, at the end of the day when the office shuts down – and The Man retires to his upstairs board room – you’ll find the same general fatigue and disillusionment as perhaps with any job!  White collar workers get stressed out too!  Higher paid corporate workers have bad days too!  And when the pay checks roll around, or a “team player’s” seniority passes a certain mile stone, you will still hear the same discontented stories, bruised egos, and sometimes even despair as with any McJob’s burger joint.  (…around the urinals anyway!)  The truth is life is never easy, things seldom go your way, and even with the greatest life – as well as job – imaginable, it’s still human nature to seek out or fear the negative!

Heck!  As you rise to the top there’s always still rivalries, jealousies, or the fear of another pit fall, and let us not forget that job politics, annoying etiquette, or social restrictions are all apparently directly proportional to a mushrooming salary.  In a sense, the stress, uncertainty – and perhaps even awkwardness – often associated with staying on top can also make for its own unique little hell!  Lastly, you might simply one day just get used to it.

And that’s when I glance towards The Bottom….

While McJobs can often get boring, annoying, or depressing, and the customers are at times a pain, and the work unappealing, and the reputation always questionable, is not entering account data, answering phone calls, attending mandatory – but dull – department meetings, being leap-frogged by some junior below you, or filling out quarterly reports any less unglamorous?  Are not difficult business clients, coworkers, or managers often the same exact people who will then mosey on after work to “The Golden Arches” for a bite with the kid?  Are not people pretty much people no matter where – or at which strata – you are?

A job’s a job!

But that’s where I come to the real McJob problem behind our nations out-of-control McJob epidemic: Just a little money!  And what is the only difference between an unglamorous – but coveted – white collar position versus an unglamorous and lowly blue collar one?  Perhaps the possibility of living a slightly more comfortable, slightly more stress free existence.  The good old American Dream!

And so…. if more of these McEmployers perhaps just raised minimum wage to about 1o or 11 dollars an hour (a partial violation to the McJob definition, I know, but possibly one of the few necessary changes), the hours to at least close to 40, provided at least an adequate health package (basic vision, check ups, emergency care, and dental – and perhaps some chiropractic) (it’s like money), a “micro 401k” if you will (so you at least won’t starve in your Golden years), a 50 cent raise every so often for outstanding performance, and perhaps a few chances at lesser management, I believe you’d create a surprisingly cooperative – and surprisingly motivated – proletariat!

Combined with at least the professional respect from the higher ups since they are, in a sense, the front lines and work horses of any industry, you might see a growing number of working class people who actually feel relatively happy, and not to mention proud of what they do!  This would, no doubt, consequently reflect on the company’s quarterly profits as well as serve as a fine reimbursement to an increased overhead!  (The best remedy for any sapped productivity, morale, or motivation?)

The more consistent and slightly higher McSalaries would also help revitalize the economy with their consumer power, as well as provide increased business to help maintain the surviving middle management sector.  Heck!  With a fairly adequate health plan and pay check to once again fall back on, whose to say we won’t once again see an influx of working class students at colleges, tech schools and universities across the country, as they, too, use their disposable income to both better themselves as well as someday prepare for a higher place in the labor hierarchy.  McWorkers like to invest their hard earned money too!

That – in my opinion – is the true solution to preventing a McJob Burn Out.  It’s not the McJob epidemic that worries me, it’s the fact that most of those McJobs are still engineered to give and award as little as possible.  In the process, millions of American workers who could otherwise be bursting with potential, instead just deteriorate and then soar nowhere in the labor market…

>>> Michael Bok, co-founder of


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