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Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Demoralization of Engineering Staff

As with many maufacturing businesses, business has been down for the last 2/3 years.  Now business is picking up and we are very happy.  However, the company owner now wants all engineers to be sitting in cubicles so that if people come buy to visit, they see people working.  We are planning on hiring several junior engineers.  My complaint (and that of 3 of my coworkers) is that we've been here over 20 years.  We have seniority.  We don't have real "Titles", but the one thing we DO have are offices (nothing fancy, but at least a f**** door.  Oh yeah, and BTW, no raises or bonuses in last 3 years.  We are on salary and if we work till 10:30 pm, and are more than 7 minutes late the next day, all hell breaks loose.  This company is RUN by the work that the three of us (the senior engineers do).  I feel like walking out, or actually, "working to "contract""--i.e. my hours are 8 to 4:30, and if after 20 years we don't rate a G--D--- office, then tough shit.  Oh, by the way, the owner is elderly and seems to want to run the factory like things were run in the 40's and 50's.  What can be done?  Any suggestions?

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

"we work till 10:30 pm, and are more than 7 minutes late the next day, all hell breaks loose" - so why have you put up with this nonsense for 20 years?  If you don't like the situation, quit and find another job.

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

I had my own office 20 years ago.  Then a cube for a few years.  Then an open-plan space for the last 10+.  If your own office is really that important, work from home.  Or work for a bank.

- Steve

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

I agree. If you are not the owner, complaining about owner's style of running his/her business is of no use. How come it took 20 years to realize that you are unhappy?

I do not see the employer at fault here. Yes, if you feel like walking out, do it. You may be pleasantly surprised, after some initial hardship.

Rafiq Bulsara

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff


I'll take a slightly softer approach to my answer than the others so far.  You have every right to be angry at the changing conditions and what appears to be a lack of respect for your "time in" at the company.  That said, I think it would help if you shifted your viewpoint just a bit to the side.  Is it possible the owner is unaware of the consequences of his actions?  From his viewpoint, he wants to show incoming customers what a great job you're doing resolving their problems.

I would take a day to calm down, then consider approaching the owner with an informal mental list of what effects you believe these changes will have.  Don't be confrontational about it, like "Don't you think we deserve offices after 20 years?"... tell him the benefits of having your own office, such as "The ability to close a door allows us to more quickly resolve a problem due to a lack of interruptions."  If he wants you visible to customers, offer to have your door open whenever customers are to be walking through the building, or schedule informal brain-storming sessions between you and the others in an open cubicle so customers can see you actively participating in the design process.

The issue of raises (or lack thereof) is another issue altogether, but it can be used as a bargaining point for this other stuff.  "We like to feel we've worked hard for you and took a risk in financially difficult times for the company, and now that the company is experiencing financial growth we would like to share in those rewards."

Something to consider...

Dan - Owner

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Well, I think the problem is the owner. I'm sure you cannot talk with him about the changes we wants to do. Yes, you deserve more respect after 20 years, especially when you are doing your work well. But it seems your boss has a different opinion. I think there is no patent for solving that problem. The best would be to leave but I suppose the actual economical situation does not allow that. In any case: Good luck - whatever your decision will be.  

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Suggest windows in the doors, so visitors can observe you without interrupting you.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

And working for a small company is good why?  Wow...:)

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."  

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

I'd have thought a modest google search would reveal plenty of studies showing the productivity effect of offices vs open plan vs cubicles, for various types of jobs

There are jobs that I literally cannot do if the background chatter is too noisy, so I either go home, or use noise cancelling headphones. If I am in the middle of something and someone interrupts me that is easily a half hour train of thought destroyed sometimes, tho to be fair trying to pick it up again sometimes reveals a problem.



Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies  http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Working for a small company is good because you only have to learn to deal with the one crazy despot.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Yeah but this one is the owner LOL

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."  

RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Kastoria, if you have so much experience in your field and you feel unhappy with the situations in the company, why don't you consider creating your own consulting business?


RE: Demoralization of Engineering Staff

Kastoria -

Do you and your fellow senior engineers have the knowledge, experience, and drive to start your own consulting business?  

These older sweat shop owners are a dying breed, and new young individuals who understand how 21st century businesses are run (largely the answer is becoming "from home") are taking over, by driving the old farts into retirement by undercutting them on fixed costs. (e.g. the cost of maintaining those cubicles you hate so)  

Someone will eventually do that to your current boss, and your current company will go under, and you will be out of a job.  That "someone" can be you, or it can be someone else who you can then beg for a job.  That's sorta the way of things.  I expect the shift into 21st century business models to be largely complete by 2020 - so not that far away.

Think about preparing for it.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

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