"They should be grateful that they have jobs."
This was said to me by a manager upon hearing that the large teams of people in their unit that had previously had offices with doors and windows and had been moved into small crowded cubes in a building with mold, ventilation, and structural problems (and not a small roach and mouse problem) and who had been taking all of it with a pretty good sense of humor, were, not surprisingly, having a hard time adjusting.
These teams of people also were working in detail-intensive jobs that required high-level customer service skills and timeliness as well as high volume (all of these things cannot coexist and yet somehow are expected to in many jobs, without any sense of irony or training for how to balance these skills). In addition, the economy was good, the industry itself already had high turnover (see the list of expectations in the previous sentence), and the pay at this particular employer wasn't the highest in the region.
But, somehow, the manager's unironic take on this was that the team members should be grateful that they have jobs at all.
The management and leadership should have been grateful that they had and have people willing to do all of those things, meet all of those expectations, and take a cut in the comforts that make it easier. The management and leadership should have, upon seeing that things had become harder but expectations had remained the same, found a way to make it easier. And management and leadership should, always, be grateful for their workforce. Management is not simply the act of sitting above others in a hierarchy and demanding that they work harder, faster, more, with less training and with gratitude.
Or, it shouldn't be.
The economy is different now. We often hear people say that they are grateful that they have a job and a paycheck.
What we don't hear enough of is managers espousing how grateful they are for their teams and the individual team members who are working at the same levels as before but in harder situations. Many of us have now made a similar shift as that previously mentioned team -- losing offices, working in trickier situations, sometimes in health-hazardous environments.
Managers: if you find yourself thinking that your team should be grateful for their jobs, take a moment and take a breath. Remember that we cannot demand that others gives us gratitude. But we can, however, be grateful for them and find ways to reflect that to them. In the end, the gratitude you feel you are somehow deserved will be something you truly earn.