A coworker told me to work more hours because we’re getting a pay cut

I recently wrote a review on the book End of Jobs: Money, Meaning, and Freedom Without the 9 to 5, and these are some additional thoughts that have spilled over to this post.

In my previous job, I worked in a field where we were paid per unit of work produced. The industry was going through some difficult financial times due to the overall economic conditions.

Unfortunately, the work didn’t scale. For every unit of work, there was an ever increasing amount of work that was needed to be completed. And like it is for everyone, time is finite.

So when my coworker suggested that I should work more when we got a pay cut, I felt it was the dumbest suggestion ever. There was no way I could physically put in more hours, even if it meant I was to take a pay cut.

The employer didn’t have money. But they also knew that many of us had no other choice economically speaking. It was a realty where we were essentially strong armed into a position where there was no negotiation — it was “[the employer’s] way or the highway”.

Worse yet, the employer knows this weakness. And they’ll exploit it at every chance they get — especially if the choice comes down to you or them. It will always be you who’ll get hit.

Most of time when conversations such as this comes up in the work place, the debate amongst the workers are typically about how unfair things are, how they can’t do this to us, or it’ll get better soon… just wait and see.

But why can’t people see that in today’s economic times things don’t get better on their own? That it is pointless to even debate whether the status quo is actually good, because it simply isn’t.

If the employer has a history of unfair practices, what makes you think they’ll actually care enough to turn around and say Yes we’ll treat you better in the future? Guess what, they won’t.

I believe learning to see the big picture and recognizing the warning signs of a dead end job is an important life skill of the 21st century. So many jobs and careers nowadays prey on the naïveté of desperate workers — especially those who have recently graduated from post-secondary education.

There is no job security as we have understood it from the last century. Occupational adaption, I believe, is the best way to seize the opportunities given to us — and it requires unlearning all traditional beliefs of what the traditional education path brings.

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