Sample Essay on Alienation at the Workplace

The Mistreatment of Employees and Ways through which it escalates

According to Karl Max, alienation is the social separation of workers from the human based systems by forcing them to adopt a money oriented system of capitalism (Rinehart, 1986). Karl Max argued that employers manipulate workers for their own gains and to maximize company profits without considering the rights of employees. He cites various scenarios whereby a company’s output is the unit employed to determine economic power of a firm while ignoring employees in the process. While justifying his assertions, Marx wrote that even though workers remain the fundamental backbone of companies, they are still unable to determine efficient and necessary tools for production. In essence, according to Marxism, alienation escalates because of the perceived ignorance of employers in adopting capitalism instead of socialism (Rinehart, 1986).

Marx through his humanist campaigns cited five instances of alienation of workforce. The first instance is the inability of workers to enjoy company benefits despite their efforts in production while the employers continue to reap the benefits of firm productivity. Because it is the company owners who make decisions on how the firms are managed, various technologies involved, marketing strategies, and financial allocations, workers remain aggrieved and unappreciated. The second instance of alienation according to Marx is the failure of employees to accord workers the freedom to decide on the length of daily duties, work organization structures, and allocation of duties amongst themselves. In spite of the commitment of the workforce in production of quality products and general company profitability, most laborers continue to live in remorseful conditions. By comparing their living standards, there is an elaborated gap between workers and their employers (Marx, Engels, 1964). Marx argues that the majority of these individuals do not come to work because they enjoy working but as a means of survival. Traditionally, work was supposed to unite people and communities. However, all the charm and integration connected with work changed once people began valuing monetary profits more than the contributors of that wealth: employees. Karl Marx’s assertions enable us to relate such work experiences to our personal encounters within different job places and environments (Rinehart, 1986).

In his book, The Tyranny of Work, James Rinehart emphasizes that work has become an engagement of irrelevant talent whereby money is more valued than human. He expounds on Marx’s assertions stating that alienation is relatively dependent on factors like terms of employment, education level, and academic experience. To a greater extent, employers’ outright preference of profits over human needs explains why majority of the employed group are bored in their respective duties (Rinehart, 1986).  A professor in Australia, Cynthia Fisher, says that recurring assignments at the workplace bore employees because the tasks require attention with limited motivation. Not unless employers create an atmosphere of freedom at work where an employee is permitted to try new methods in solving problems, boredom will continue to derail productivity of firms (Wendling, 2009). By encouraging independence and autonomy within the workplace, employees are able to explore alternative ways of solving problems and the act makes work interesting. On the contrary, it is not only employers’ methods and decisions that cause boredom at work but also fellow employees who lure others into their negative attitudes toward certain tasks. Different aspects influence boredom among workers with noticeable one being age. Research shows that young employees are easily bored than older employees mainly because of the hatred towards recurring tasks (Rinehart, 1986). Furthermore, challenging goals and targets too create boredom among employees because of the levels of uncertainty and unpredictability which might result without an achievement of such goals. The fear of losing a job causes uncertainty among employees rendering their work boring, and it can only eased if employees create their own achievable targets. To increase productivity and company profits, both employees and employers should agree on various strategies to solve the boredom issue (Marx, Engels, 1964).

In every firm there is the management who foresee successful implementation of projects by offering professional guidance. In most cases, bosses, as the managers are commonly referred to, inhibit vast experience in the market and company management. Because of their vast knowledge, experience, and a lifetime collection of wealth and resources, most bosses command respect among their peers and juniors alike. However, there is a different group of bosses who no matter how hard an employee tries they are not likable because of unruly behavior and being ‘petty’. Some bosses find it hard to appreciate the workers irrespective of how committed they are to the well-being of the firm with the majority recommending non-increment in salary while others stagnate potential promotions of employees for their own personal reasons (Wendling, 2009). In fact negative attributes of a manger can hurt the whole company because the workforce is less motivated while some employees might seek employment in other firms to advance their careers.

A positive work environment ensures that employees develop a corresponding mindset which contributes to advancement in company productivity. To create a positive work atmosphere, both workers and the employers should practice encouragement, appreciation, developing respect, giving valuable feedback as well as criticizing positively and respectfully (Marx, Engels, 1964). Furthermore, failure by managements to recognize employee efforts creates both internal and external instability of employees. Most companies face shortage of workforce because of the failure to offer deserving benefits because some resort to other companies which offer lucrative packages. Benefits not only entails monetary rewards but also other welfare needs of employees such as respect, understanding and flexibility of management. To create an understanding in relation to employer-employee relationship, Karl Max relates employees to animals because of they are treated for the employers own gain. Just like animals, most laborers only work for survival but not for enjoyment because of the way firm owners treat employees with the only difference being that humans work willingly in spite of the devastating treatment (Rinehart, 1986). While expressing how employers manipulate employees, Adams and Sydie cite varied aspects of estrangement at the workplace.

Workers are generally the core of production and it is their efforts that determine the well-being of any firm. However, it is saddening that with all the sacrifice and efforts workers employ in the realization of the final product, they remain poor while employers become wealthier because of the practice of capitalism. In such circumstances, the capitalists enjoy profits of production while the engines of produced goods are reduced to being a product themselves because of the limited difference between the two aspects (Marx, Engels, 1964). Another instance of alienation is during the production process. Karl Marx feels that because of lack of integrated labor where the workers have no say in the production process, strategies, work patterns, and allocations, workers shall remain victimized. Marx advocates for a labor system where workers control production within a firm by determing the various components and elements of production. In capitalism, bosses can be frustrating people not only because they assign too much workload and little pay but also crippling an employees’ efforts to develop and prosper. The bosses willingly neglect the rights of workers by declining to advocate for financial improvements for the workers which are essential in living set up of humans because without adequate payment, a worker has no choice but to live a poor life. To create a happy environment at the workplace, employers should offer rewards to performing laborers, and to recognize   and appreciate their efforts. Moreover, the act of appreciation motivates employees creating a healthy competition among them and in the process a company’s productivity increases. In achieving recognition, the management should not only concentrate on the financial rewards but they should also engage the workers in important company activities, offering necessary freedom in executing their duties, making friends with and most importantly offering medical covers for the employees (Marx, Engels, 1964).

Of all the strategies an employer can adopt to create a relationship between the workers, the product and himself, it is salary increment that yields recognizable rejuvenation within the workplace because nothing motivates a laborer more than monetary payment. To achieve employer-employee relationship, it is advisable to recognize employees by paying their deserved dues on time to avoid psychological withdrawal which might lead to reduced commitment thereafter a decline in production and company profits.  In other instances, employees suffer from varied forms of mistreatment which lead to alienation including sexual orientation, racial profiling, and on the basis of religion (Marx, Engels, 1964). When employers start exploiting workers by forcing them into unlawful sexual practices while subjecting others to religious discrimination, workers are aggrieved and the work output reduces. Because of the power and domination employers command within organizations, male and female bosses alike exploit workers forcing them into irresponsible sexual acts, touching their private parts, and if the worker repels the advances, employers resort to sacking or demotion of the victims. Acts of work discrimination and molestation are hard to cope with emotionally and psychologically with in certain instances employees resort to resigning, others commit suicide while the rest might continue working and cope with it but in an unstable mindset which paralyzes maximization of the efforts of production. Although bullying at the workplace is mainly committed by the bosses, fellow employees also contribute to a certain percentage of molestation which can range from sexual advances to ridiculing of others (Rinehart, 1986). With vast experience working in different organizations, it is appalling to note that fellow employees might engage in acts of financial misappropriation and still criminalize others leading to prosecution of innocent workers or facing the sack.

Despite the shortcomings and criticism that accompanies Karl Marx’s views on alienation and the labor environment, it is important to note that as a humanist, his advocacy for an end to workplace injustice proved vital in shaping modern politics and human labor systems. In addition, Marx’s views on capitalism during the early years of socialism movement is what changed the modern day capitalism which to some extent values the rights and needs of employees(Marx, Engels, 1964). The early analysis of alienation led to an advancement in the labor industry and had it not been for Marxism, employees would still be victims of their own weakness.


Rinehart, J., & Faber, S. (1986). The tyranny of work: Alienation and the labour process (2nd ed.). Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Canada.

Wendling, A. (2009). Karl Marx on technology and alienation. Basingstoke [England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1964). The Communist manifesto. New York: Monthly Review Press.