What if you were told that your job needed you to work only 35 hours a week? That you couldn’t work after 5:00pm? Or that working overtime, without extra pay, would be frowned upon?
You might have chuckled and gone back right to your TPS report…
Think before you chuckle. What was described is an employee’s life in Denmark, a country (get this) with the second highest productivity and among the highest in employee happiness, in the European Union.Why? Not because they have a dessert named after the country, but because not treating employees like warranty’d commodity, only brings out the best in them.
A State College Service Commission releasing 156 names, starting with the letter A, with the rest of the 25 letters yet to make onto the interview list. The number of seats, being considered for, are just 4! The only thing you could be possibly thankful for is that not many applicants are named Xenon or Xerox.
What does this reflect?
This is just a snippet of the current economy where there are at least 40 applicants, to begin with, for a single position. On a broader analysis, nearly 20% of India’s educated youth are jobless. Though a much more serious issue which requires a more involved discussion, it shows the desperation of current job seekers that employers can smell from miles away.
If you do manage to get a job, you do everything to make sure you are not going to be filling out yet another job application in the near future. Such a situation is too vulnerable and some employers know just how to take advantage of it.
Now Picture this.
About 15000 tech employees were fired in India alone, in 2015. Starting from reasons(10 signs that could mean an impending layoff in India) of recession hitting the global economy to so called employee under-performance, recent past has seen a disturbing trend of more firees than hirees.
In a tragically funny anecdote, by a former Semiconductor and Electronics Industry employee, Deepika (name changed) shared how she would go to work every day and be relieved to find her electronic-gate-pass card still beeping her in. A failure of which could mean a Dear Jane email waiting for her, thanking her for her services.
More lay-offs translate into more job demand and higher work load for the surviving employees. And with evidence of daily pink slip ruthlessness, one can only manage a meek Yes Boss. Sure I will send you the document by 10 tonight boss.
How about this angle:
For every trained employee, working in a company for 5 years, there are ten fresh out of college eager learners and job seekers who would do the job for lesser salaries. So companies often willingly let go of experienced better paid workers and replace them with the inexperienced, for much lower salaries.
It is also common to find large tech companies sending their engineers abroad for months or years, in a practice commonly known as “body shopping” and reaping the benefits themselves.
1. You sleep less than an average of 6 hours every night.
2. Part of your daily routine involves turning the floor lights on, when you arrive, and off, when you leave.
3. You have never attended your daughter’s dance recital.
4. You can’t remember the last time you had a day off, let alone a vacation with your family.
5. You are constantly anxious about your performance, or rather the way it is perceived by your manager.
6. You feel you cannot talk to your manager, your HR or your colleagues about your grievances.
7. Your work-life balance has taken a nose dive.
If all or even any of the above sound familiar, then you might just be in the company of the un-free.On a closer inspection you may actually see yourself among thousands of employees steering the metaphorical ship of your company, chained to the massive oars, much like the galley slaves of the ancient times. Have employers really become the, less gruesome, less morbid, less reprehensible versions of the last century plantation owners?
Possibly, because these employees don’t have the freedom to say that’s it. They can’t refuse to give in to unusual demands, disagree or even negotiate. They have seen their colleague, the guy who met expectations in the last year’s review and was the second one to receive a pink slip this year. Right after the one handed to the under-performer.
He had met his deadlines. He hadn’t called in sick every month like the other guy. He had even received an atta-boyon that project two years ago. But then he decided to look beyond his cubicle. Step out of the office every day at 6:00pm (like his offer letter had suggested) and didn’t go out of his way to take over extra work that could possibly keep him busy during his days off.
So, when your manager sent you an email asking about how far you are with collating the data and sending a report to the client, you replied –
I am in luck. The surgeon just postponed the procedure by two hours. I should be able to finish the report.
Your humble servant,
An employee’s biggest fear is the loss of his job.
With families to support, car and home loans to repay and rising cost of living, one is willing to do all that it takes to keep the regular salaries rolling in.
So there you are, stretched thin between a rock and that hard place you call your job. The grim extreme being instances of work related deaths due to undue pressure, a phenomenon with a name of its own,karõshi (Japanese).
Can you do something to crawl out of that pressure spot and change your situation? Can you face your employer and lay down your terms? Can things turn in your favor so you don’t spend every waking hour working for your boss?
It will need a paradigm shift where there are better labor laws and employers, willingly or unwillingly, will have to abide by them.
And maybe, it will also need you to value your time, away from work.
After all it’s just a job!
So why not take a cue from our Danish friends and do nothing once in a while. It is not impossible.
People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh