Shouldn’t I benefit from fruits of my labor?
Employee engagement is driven by purpose, recognition & monetary incentives.
Insightful tale on worker demotivation
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“What really happened at the pay review meeting?” Isha asked, resting her head on his back. She had followed him out onto their porch. “Who was present?”
“My Supervisor and the HR (Human Resources) Manager,” Rosh answered quietly, thirstily drinking up the brilliant hues scattered in the evening sky by the dying sun.
The sunset was beautiful today, but somehow the contentment it usually brought him had been robbed by someone today.
“The supervisor is insecure himself,” he continued, “so he did not push my raise. The HR Manager is either blind to the quality of my work, or believes he can get people like me at a dime a dozen these days. Either way, it was clear that there was nothing more on the table.”
“But what really irked me was his attitude. He sat across from me cross-legged, and with his shoe in my face. There was no mistaking the body language, but maybe I’m reading something that didn’t exist because I am weak and broken inside myself. So, every slur appears like the final insult.”
“I have never had someone sit like that with me. I went asking for my due, not curry for his favors. Did he think we were beggars? It is the work people like us do on the ground, that pays his bloody wages.”
He was simmering inside. She waited for his anger to subside. She knew his reason will win, eventually.
“When he had gone,” Rosh sighed after a long pause, “I vented my spleen at my supervisor. The only saving grace was that he didn’t disagree once, with anything I said. Pathetic!”
“Did he say nothing at all?” she asked him.
“He tried to pacify me,” he answered, “after I had finished. By giving his own example. After years of committed service, he said he had still not been promoted.
No transfer to greener pastures, no salary increase, no commendation. Didn’t see the Company doing much for him in the future either.”
“As if I should take solace from his suffering, and resign myself to bearing my burdens because he bears his. The soulless exploiting the spineless, and the spineless conditioning the hapless.”
Isha felt a sudden rush of blood to her head. She was instantly afraid. For him, for them. Had he resigned again today?
“I hope you didn’t do anything stupid,” she asked, almost fearfully. “I hope you weren’t rude to him?”
“It was really hard for me not to,” Rosh hissed. “I hated his fear, his placations, his spinelessness.”
“No, I wasn’t rude to him. But I did tell him a story. I hope he got the message.”
“What story?” she asked again.
“Of a man like him,” said Rosh, “who goes to HR looking for a fairer deal after years of stagnation, and gets mentally screwed again.”
The HR guy sits him down, and asks: Tell me, how many days are there in a year?
Employee: 365, but 366 in a leap year.
HR Manager: And how many hours make up a day?
Employee: 24 hours.
HR Manager: And how long do you work in a day?
Employee: 8am to 5pm. 8 hours a day, not including an hour for lunch and tea-breaks.
HR Manager: So, what fraction of your day do you spend working?
Employee: 8/24 hours. So, a third of the day.
HR Manager: Ok, so if a year has 366 days, what is one third of 366 days?
Employee: 122 days.
HR Manager: Do you come to work on weekends?
HR Manager: How many days in a year are weekend days?
Employee: 52 Saturdays, 52 Sundays. Total 104 days
HR Manager: You’re good at math. So, take away 104 days from 122 days. How many days do you have now?
Employee: 18 days
HR Manager: You also get a week's sick leave every year. Remove those 7 days too, from the 18 left. How many days are you left with now?
Employee: 11 days
HR Manager: Correct! But do you come to work on New Year’s day?
HR Manager: Do you come to work on Labour Day?
HR Manager: Do you come to work on Queen’s Birthday?
HR Manager: On Good Friday? Easter Monday? Christmas day? Boxing Day? Auckland Anniversary Day?
HR Manager: How many days are those?
Employee: 8 days!
HR Manager: So how many days are left?
Employee: 3 days!
HR Manager: You work 3 days a year out of 366, and you want a raise? We are not a charity, you know!
Employee: Geez! I hadn’t realized the company had been so generous to me all these years!
“Die for them,” Rosh concluded, and turned back to go inside the home, “and they think it is their due. Your exemplar raises the benchmark for everyone else. And you are expected to do it again. And again.”
“Ask for a raise, for all the exemplary work they say you do, and you are now being unreasonable. These are lean times, and they’ve got to look after all their flock. And the flock includes old-timers, under-performers, non-performers, coat-tail riders.”
“I get nothing extra for going the extra mile, but I’ll get pounced on if I don’t meet the ever-rising benchmarks. Yet, I do want to perform, and not just because I'll never get a decent wage without performing."
"If I am the creme-de-la-creme in the company, as they tell me when they want me to do more work, and I am delivering quality, creating significant value, then shouldn’t I be benefiting too from the fruits of my labor. I am not a work of charity, you know.”
“I add value and I am told, I should be grateful I have a job,’’ he shook his head in despair. “When you settle for less than what you deserve, you end up getting even less than what you had initially settled for.”
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