Today marks the annual Hallmark holiday, Employee Appreciation Day. It's a day to celebrate your overworked, underpaid employees with Hoops and Yoyo cards and Mylar balloons. The Web site Recognition Professionals International, which exists, by the way, is encouraging all employers to open their office doors and celebrate their hard-worked minions.
They suggest that when employers do give some appreciation today, they think outside the cubical and give their well-deserving employees something personal and memorable. They are even charitable enough to give a few suggestions:
Consider a gift certificate entitling an employee to lunch with you or another mentor of his/her choosing for the purpose of being coached on one or more topics.
Send a handwritten note of thanks for the completion of a job well done.
Ask an employee to write down six ways they would like to be rewarded. Anything goes. The only rule is that half the ideas need to be low cost or no cost.
Purchase a company "toy" your employees would most enjoy; a cappuccino machine, dart board, volleyball court, exercise room.
While these are all very nice, theoretical, sentiments, forcing an employee to have lunch with you or another "mentor" to be coached on the topic of their choosing seems more punishment than reward. And a handwritten note ain't gonna pay the bills. What's next, a round of high fives?
Being an employee, I agree that we should be appreciated, but not with cards or parlor tricks. Employee Appreciation Day should be thought of just like Christmas or Arbor Day and employees should be rewarded with cold hard cash. Ask any employee what will make them feel appreciated and they will most likely tell you a raise or a bonus...or a gift card to Chili's will do in a pinch.
In thinking about Employee Appreciation Day and all of the many thankless jobs I've had over the years, I thought about all the movies about people working in thankless jobs, and it made my sad life seem that much better.
Be thankful you don't do these things for a living -- the top five most underappreciated employees in movies.
5. Brantley Foster, The Secret of My Success Michael J. Fox enters his uncle's corporate high-rise business as a lackey. He delivers mail; sometimes he even delivers his uncle's wife to her place of residence. But MJF has big dreams of climbing the corporate ladder, and he doesn't want to wait. So, he pretends to be a bigwig in the company, and dons suit and tie and carries a briefcase and a padfolio. He does all of this corporate wheeling and dealing while still having to deliver the mail on time. Toss in his horny aunt and he's got a potential third job of gigolo! Fox is the most overworked employee in the corporate world and he doesn't even have a real job. You need a bonus or (spoiler) to take over the company at the end of the movie.
4. Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity Your job sucks, Bourne. If I've learned anything from the Bourne movies, it's to never accept a job in the CIA. All that will happen is they will train you to be an assassin and then dump you in the ocean. What did Bourne ever do to the government, besides go rogue? He killed for them, spied on foreign dignitaries, blew stuff up and all he got was some lousy amnesia and a target on his back. How rude, CIA! The least you could give Bourne is a hotter chick than Run Lola Run.
3. Carl Taylor and James St. James, Men at Work Maybe being a garbage man isn't so bad after all! Men at Work is about two sanitation workers, Charlie Sheen and brother Emilio, who find themselves in the middle of a murder-mystery. These guys really deserve an Employee Appreciation Day treat. Firstly, they are garbage men, the most thankless job in this country, and then they have to deal with dead bodies, toxic waste and that guy Keith David from The Thing, who looks like Carl Weathers. How might you show your appreciation for these two schlubs? For Estevez, give him his career back and for Sheen, give him his career back.
2. Lee Holloway, The Secretary
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays submissive
secretary administrative assistant to a cold and sexually peculiar James Spader. Not only does Spader ask her to work overtime, he spanks her, ties her up, makes her crawl like a dog, tells her how much food to eat and makes her sit for days on end. I suppose her Employee Appreciation Day reward would be his love, but Gyllenhaal sure takes a lot of weird abuse to get there, even if it happens to be abuse that she enjoys.
1. Lance the Drug Dealer, Pulp Fiction Being a drug dealer is (I assume) really hard work and probably a thankless job. Oh sure, you get praise when you have a good supply or give some freebies, but how about when you are out and someone's really jonesing? You might as well be six feet under as far as your customers are concerned. Lance the drug dealer in Pulp Fiction, played brilliantly by Eric Stoltz, has to contend with not just junkies and Rosanna Arquette, but being disturbed at all hours of the night with an overdosing Uma Thurman! Luckily the dude is smart enough to keep an adrenaline shot on hand to revive the dying Thurman and save the day. And what does he get in return? Nothing. Rodney Dangerfield would have said it best, heroin dealers get no respect.