Meaning of Work
Doing “work good” means being an outstanding employee and going above and beyond to do your job. The problem is that sometimes the two contradict each other. This seems to be the underlying issue in Lynda Workman’s passage, “The Experience of Policy,” where she is torn between following the policy of her job and doing what she knows in her heart is right. In Barbara Garson’s passage, “McDonalds-We Do It All for You,” she interviews McDonalds employees to get insight on what it’s like to work at McDonalds and how it feels to know that in their eyes: no matter who you are, you are replaceable.
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These two passages are very similar to each other. McDonalds doesn’t want their employees to think, only to follow the procedures, just as Workman is forced to follow policy, not to do what she knows is right. I am fortunate to have had the same job at a family restaurant called Bravo Cafe for the past 3 years. However, I’ve also had experiences working at other jobs over the years. I have been in almost the same situations as these McDonalds employees and Workman and it was because of this I realized what doing “good work” and doing “work good” means to me.
In March of 2011 I became an employee of Sonic Drive-In. Over the course of the 5 months I worked there I never liked it. This was the first job I had ever worked besides Bravo. Even though I loved my job there I was dying to do something different. At first it was really tough being the “new person” again, but I figured that once I got everything down I would be treated with more respect. However, I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case. My managers were strictly business, and like McDonalds, they made it clear that if you ever chose to quit you could easily be replaced.
I hated being treated this way and as time went on I became more and more careless about my performance as an employee at Sonic and doing “work good. ” In all my time at Bravo I’ve never performed my job carelessly. I have always been reliable, hardworking and go above and beyond my job description. Before working at Sonic I assumed that being a hard worker had more to do with my personality than the job itself, but instead I learned that wasn’t the case.
I realized that the uplifting and welcoming environment of Bravo and knowing that they valued me as an employee motivated me to be a hard worker and to do “work good,” in return. However, the stressful and negative environment at Sonic made me miserable and careless about my job. Many people don’t see the relationship between work environment and work performance, but I have experienced it firsthand. If employers show their employees that they value them and their work, employees will only be more determined to prove themselves. You don’t have to know how to cook; you don’t have to know how to think. There’s a procedure for everything and you just follow the procedures (251),’ says Jason, a former McDonalds employee that Garson interviewed for her passage. Jason explains that you don’t need any experience to work at McDonalds. You just follow the procedures your taught. McDonalds is run like more of a factory than a restaurant. They don’t want people; they want robots. As Garson interviews more employees and former employees of McDonalds she realizes that Jason was absolutely right.
Not only did McDonalds know that they could easily replace their employees, they made sure their employees knew this as well. If someone had an opinion or did things “their own way” they were punished rather than appreciated. McDonalds completely runs on technology. The computers do everything, including telling the managers how many employees to schedule. The amount of technology they use gives McDonalds the freedom to hire almost anyone. Even though I don’t think its right for McDonalds to treat their employees with such disregard, I have to say that I understand their mindset.
Their business isn’t affected by how they treat their employees in any way, so why does it matter? Workman’s job is quite different than working at a fast food restaurant such as McDonalds or Sonic. As a social worker she knows that how she does her job can have a significant impact on someone else’s life. Workman’s passage focuses mainly on her questions about policy: how is policy defined? How are policies established? Can there be exceptions to a policy? A social workers job is to help people better themselves, but what if a policy prevents them from doing so?
There is no right answer to these questions. In her passage Workman tells the story of Dan, a social worker who broke policy by building better houses for his clients, and was fired (Workman 754). Policies are putting social workers in lose-lose situations. It’s as if they’re forced to choose between helping someone who truly needs it and keeping their job. Workman shares a personal experience of her own about an old Indian woman who used to support herself by selling handmade sweaters.
Due to her severe arthritis the woman could no longer make sweaters and needed help making ends meet. After a few months of being on welfare the woman sold two sweaters and earned enough money to support herself for that month. According to policy Workman was supposed to take the woman off of welfare, but she didn’t and instead made no record of the old woman’s income increase. It was at that moment that Workman realizes even if she wanted to try to get the policy changed she would put the old woman’s welfare and her own job at stake.
Workman’s experience, as well as Dan’s experience, is the perfect example of what it means to do “good work. ” Doing “good work” and doing “work good” are two different things and it’s not always easy to balance the two. Sometimes in order to be a good employee you have to go against something you believe is right or you must make the decision to do what’s right and risk losing your job. You wouldn’t think the job of a McDonalds employee and a social worker would have very much in common, but they do.
McDonalds employees are to follow procedures, as social workers are to follow the policies. McDonalds employees and Workman were encouraged to do “work good” and discouraged to worry about doing “good work” if it affected their job. In my experience at Sonic I learned a lot about the factors that go into doing “work good” and how it feels not to be appreciated by your employer. If it wasn’t for my job at Bravo I might not know the difference between the two and I may not have known the feeling of being a hard, honorable worker who knew they were appreciated.