I’ve been toying with writing this post a few times over recent years, but each time I’ve backed off. Recent events have brought it to the fore again, so I thought I would give it a shot…
In the beginning
I guess when I was first starting out in the working world I was a little naive and felt like work was my extended family, and they cared about me. Over the years a number of events brought me to the realization that I am just a commodity. I am selling my time for cash. The company wants to get as much of my time as they can, for as little money as possible. We are sold a story that the harder we work, the bigger the returns will be, but that’s not always true and you have to ask yourself what you are willing to give up for a chance at a possible return in the future that might never come.
The pandemic and quiet quitting
The pandemic caused a really big shift in the way many people perceived work. Prior to the pandemic many of us were lost in the grind. Once we started working from home we realized there was such a thing as work-life balance. That was one of the factors that lead to “quiet quitting”, which is an unhelpful name for what is essentially setting boundaries.
If you are hired to work a normal working day, let’s say 9 to 5, why would you start earlier or work later for no extra benefits? Why not disconnect from work as soon as the clock strikes 5 and live your life? If there is a pressing deadline, is that really your problem, or was the project not staffed properly? If there is a problem at the weekend, shouldn’t the company hire people to provide support over the weekend, rather than expecting you to chip in and help?
You as an individual have to set boundaries and stick to them. I’ve been terrible at this over the years, seeing myself get sucked in to doing more and more.
If you are being paid to do a job, it is only right that you do it to the best of your ability, but that doesn’t mean working excessive hours, and spending your free time thinking about it.
Productivity and pay
Another thing that can cause consternation is the relationship between productivity and pay, or the lack of it. I’ve worked for some companies where people get paid different amounts of money for the same job, based on their perceived productivity. I say “perceived” as some people are really good at faking productivity (see Visibility vs Results). If productivity is tracked and managed properly, I have no problem with people being paid different amounts of money for the same job. People are being paid based on the value they provide to the company.
There are companies where the pay scales are quite rigid. Everyone doing job X gets paid the same money, regardless of productivity. What happens if Jayne is twice as productive as Janet? Effectively Jayne is being paid half the amount of money per unit work delivered. That begs the question should Jayne work less hours, so she completes the same units of work as Janet over the week? I’m pretty sure many companies would say no, because they want the most out of the workers for the least amount of money, but if there is no incentive to be more production, why bother?
Working from home
Working from home has become another bone of contention. Before the pandemic I could never have imagined working from home full time. Now it is one of my requirements for any future job. I see no reason why I should be stressed out by a commute ever again. I speak to colleagues who are saving massive amounts of time and money by not having to commute. Forcing people into an office when they don’t want to be there is a very negative situation…
The view of business types
I keep seeing stories by business types complaining people aren’t willing to put in the effort these days. Why is it a problem? They want you to work harder so they can employ fewer people and make bigger profits. They don’t care about the impact on the people or their work-life balance. It’s just a meat grinder.
Here’s a quote from Jeff Bezos.
“When I interview people I tell them, ‘You can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three,”Bezos wrote in the 1997 letter.
More recently we’ve had Elon Musk coming out with phrases like these.
“extremely hardcore”Elon Musk during the Twitter debacle.
“long hours at high intensity”
“only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade”
They are both seeking something for nothing, and they don’t give a crap about the people they burn out and discard along the way…
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours
Companies have to understand that jobs are a balancing act. Some people want more money, while others place more value on their free time. What’s more, that balance changes over time. I’ve seen this shift in myself over the years.
It’s not up to me to decide how you should live your lives, but don’t for one moment think companies care about you. Sure, some individuals in the company might, but ultimately you are a cog in a money making machine, and when it suits them, they will turn on you.
Know what you are worth, and understand what you value in life!