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Old 03-27-2015, 01:31 PM
Location: Albuquerque NM
1,659 posts, read 1,523,899 times
Reputation: 3640


When I started working for the federal government 30 years ago, the technical organizations were dominated by older white men and there were few women. The workplace was rather rigid and micromanaged. There were lots of nonperformers and managers were helpless to do much about it except to monitor their work hours and give them mediocre performance appraisals. As time went by I was able to move into an area of my choice, develop the needed expertise, and find my niche. While the number of female technical staff did not significantly increase with time, women (and minorities) became more accepted and were given more respect. The quality of the workforce improved as many of the nonperformers retired although this is still an issue. Quality of life initiatives were introduced such as flexible work hours and telework. Most managers seemed less preoccupied with micromanaging and leave employees alone if they do their job.

On the bad side, the number of business practices initiatives (e.g., ISO, training accreditation, records management) has increased although these initiatives seem to come in cycles. There are numerous reorganizations which are a pain. Positions are not being backfilled as staff retires and there is a large wave of retirees on the horizon. Ten percent of my organization is retiring this year and more will become eligible in the near future. I also hope to work for two more years but knowing that I am now eligible to retire at any time may make it easier to deal with some of this.
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:34 PM
33,046 posts, read 22,053,448 times
Reputation: 8970
As an unskilled worker, earning money became more difficult over the years. I was shoveling snow at 10, had my first paper route at 12, and mowed lawns at 14. All of those would be more arduous today.
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Old 03-27-2015, 04:08 PM
Location: North Carolina
2,909 posts, read 2,013,641 times
Reputation: 5854
Originally Posted by snowtired14 View Post
I'm only two years from retirement, so I'm close enough to have experienced the difference. The biggest difference I've seen over my career is that 35 years ago I went to work, put in my day and went home. Today, with the advent of the internet and cell phones and linked emails, we seem to be "on the job" 24/7. I get messages at all hours, and when I'm on "vacation", and the company has no qualms about contacting me. Of course all this and no extra pay as I'm on salary. Thi is becoming the norm in a lot of jobs for the kids today, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.
I have to wonder if this trend line is going to continue indefinitely (I hope not), or if eventually there is going to be a breaking point when backlash starts to happen on a significant scale. Of course, undoubtedly, this flexible blending of work and home works both ways, right? We all know that when work is free to contact you all the time, we all now have perfect autonomy to call in on some days and tell them we'd feel more productive working (and will only have to work 1/3 our normal day) at home in our sweat pants while watching daytime TV in bed, right?

I'm appreciating everyone's comments so far and more are certainly welcome!
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Old 03-27-2015, 09:50 PM
Location: Southwest Washington State
21,868 posts, read 14,371,350 times
Reputation: 30746
I did several jobs over time. I tended to become bored after the job was no longer a challenge. By the time I was in my lasting career, I was challenged and I enjoyed it. Inevitably, a period of boredom set in, but I just kept on, and eventually this feeling passed. And then of course, we got new management, and things changed. So, I went from boredom to uncertainty to being challenged again. By the time of the next management change, I qualified for retirement and so I retired.

I never hated my job. I really liked it, for the most part. I read somewhere that you are lucky if you get to practice your skill or profession 20% of the time you actually work. And this was correct for me. I enjoyed the professional part immensely. I liked the paperwork, scheduling, resolving employee problems, and managing facility problems much less. But there you are. There is no perfect job situation, I believe.
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Old 03-27-2015, 10:10 PM
Location: Sacramento
13,784 posts, read 23,807,188 times
Reputation: 6195
Work became much easier as I went through my career. Things such as vague initial project or task directions would fluster me when I was new to the workforce, but I didn't mind that at all when I had much more experience and could figure things out for myself. Management was something I wouldn't have been able to do well my first 10-15 years, even as only a team leader I can see a lot of mistakes I could have avoided. After a bit more experience, management came a lot easier for me.

Nothing really became harder nor more intolerable. I became much better at "compartmentalizing" things that seemed to be a problem or overwhelming. Mastering work breakout structure using new automated tools was a big help, these didn't exist when I began my career.

Work just wasn't very difficult for me, and though I was looking forward to retirement I generally enjoyed much of my work life.
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Old 03-27-2015, 11:35 PM
6,253 posts, read 4,728,813 times
Reputation: 12833
Originally Posted by NewToCA View Post
Work just wasn't very difficult for me, and though I was looking forward to retirement I generally enjoyed much of my work life.
Just curious; did you happen to work for a government agency or a non-profit?
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Old 03-28-2015, 12:08 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,563 posts, read 39,944,045 times
Reputation: 23699
Math became a LOT easier! (No more trig tables / slide rules / Sine bars / dividing heads). I used each everyday, some times ALL day.
Mechanical Drawing became a lot easier (no more erasers and lettering templates) Extensive use of CAD systems and CAM.
Communication took 1 week to transfer (HUGE) data files / drawings around the world; now... a few seconds.
Productivity became much higher (to a point...) 8 hr process became <2hr (but work hours were still 60 - 70/week for entire career). I like working Saturday / Sunday because you only have to work 1/2 day!! (12 hrs instead of 24 hrs!)

Lots of neat new technology and an employer who invested in it.

Work did not become any more enjoyable, but remained to have pockets of 'fun'. People became a lot LESS fun (heads / attention stuck on new media, far less 'time together' planning and having fun, crossing challenging bridges TOGETHER as work team / group).. MUCH less time socializing with work group (+/-). I did / do have some of the best work groups possible, have always 'fell-on-the-sword' for each other to help the company succeed. (New 'entitlement generation' will NOT do that. They will leave a project / customer hanging if it is time to go home for night or weekend).

As I have aged (at work and home) it has become MUCH Easier to say "I'm Sorry" !

"" xxxx "" xxxx "" xxxx it has become MUCH harder to get through BS intensive times like 'annual evaluations'.
"Show me where to sign... I don't want to waste my time reading this (again)."
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:25 AM
Location: Sacramento
13,784 posts, read 23,807,188 times
Reputation: 6195
Originally Posted by jrkliny View Post
Just curious; did you happen to work for a government agency or a non-profit?
Dept of Defense
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Old 03-29-2015, 09:33 AM
3,945 posts, read 3,262,187 times
Reputation: 11315
I worked a total of forty three years, half of that time was in a skilled trade, and half in a large manufacturing company. I owned my own business for years and also managed as well as worked for others. The large company experience (20 yrs) was barely tolerable at times due to the changing business philosophies of the last twenty five years, including just in time manufacturing, TQM, SPC, and a host of other Toyota production initiatives that were painfully adapted by a recalcitrant and fearful management group.

The big company got things done by simply utilizing it's huge financial position, things got done, but slowwwwly, my small company time being an experience of having to figure out our own solutions on the cheap, but more rewarding as an individual contributor. Working for over twenty years as an individual contributor with it's own individual rewards was very different from the team concept approach to work where the rewards were spread around regardless of the individual effort expended. A huge portion of one's effort was spent in interpersonal relationship building within your work group. Walking on eggshells takes practice.

In the large company paradigm one's labor was looked upon as a rather insignificant contribution, the big picture was inclusive of the team effort but rarely the individual effort. This environment was better tolerated by those who had began their work life in it as opposed to those who came into it in their forties as I did. I served as a team leader and saw firsthand the reluctance of many to make any attempt toward a more personal style of contribution, instead the majority were trying to shrink into the background and do the minimum work required, satisfied to be one of the herd.

By the time I retired I definitely understood the difference between work and the workplace. Most people understand their job better after a time, but the real challenge seems to be the work of interacting with others in a competitive environment wherein your job skill may count less than your social quotient. Feeling like a bruised and battered prize fighter in the last round many workers at retirement feel the liberation from the environment, but not the job, liberation from the workplace politics or policies, but not the welcomed challenges of their work.
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Old 03-29-2015, 06:50 PM
Location: Retired
648 posts, read 497,467 times
Reputation: 1057
I have worked 43 years so far at five major aerospace employers. Graduated when I was 20. The salary curve for engineers has been flattened, senior engineers no longer make as much as they used to. Benefits have been greatly reduced. Basic engineering technical knowledge is becoming scarcer as older engineers retire. Companies do not value technical expertise; often promoting younger workers who never learned practical engineering. Companies have far more bureaucracy. We have had the rise of the MBA, people who usually only contribute damage. There has been outsourcing. "Casual" overtime in place of time and a half. If you remember the 1980s, the US was the world leader in just about all aerospace fields. Now we are rotting from the inside out, due to mismanagement. We get the Junk Strike Fighter, many years behind schedule and way over cost. Assuming it ever works.
What I have seen is not good. Just glad I will not have to put up with it much longer.
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