I tend to lean right on most issues, though I can’t bring myself to be a Republican. There are things from the left I agree with as well as things from the right, so I tend to think of myself as more of an independent Libertarian. However, some of the things from the left are things I agree with very seriously, and one of those things is related to fair treatment of employees with regard to duties and responsibilites.
One of the most frustrating things about the business world is the hypocrisy of employers. One minute, they are haggling with a customer about not wanting to provide a service they didn’t agree to, then the next they walk into your office and add a task to your list of responsibilities with no discussion of extra pay or other compensation. It boggles the mind that they demand something from their employees that they would never put up with from their customers.
It is very difficult to get our minds around the fact that just because we are employees does not mean that we have no agency in our work. We sign an employment agreement and immediately resign ourselves to being slaves to our boss. This is justified in our minds as being unavoidable because we have no alternatives. If we quit and can’t find another job, we’re going to be broke and out on the street.
The truth is that we as employees are the same as our employers. We are our own little businesses with services to offer for hire. Our employer pays us to perform a service that is agreed to from the hire date until the agreement comes to an end. Employers have no power that we don’t give them, and if they wish to place additional responsibilities on our shoulders it is our duty to demand additional compensation or to refuse to participate in those activities.
Too often we become slaves to our bosses. We are fearful of being unable to make it if this job doesn’t work out, so we come in day after day to jobs we hate because we are too afraid to stand up for ourselves and risk losing what we have. The idea that we have rights is buried under the mountain of oppression that is the employee/employer relationship. They have the power and we just have to do what they tell us.
At the end of the day, the only thing we can do is push as far as we are willing to push. Most of us will never find the courage to simply walk out of a job when our employer tries to take a mile after we gave an inch. The work will just continue creeping further and further until we are so frustrated that our lives become miserable shells of what they could be. When your career becomes an impediment to your happiness, it is time to start looking for another option.
It is my hope that we can find the strength to push back against these people who feel entitled to whatever they ask simply because they pay us to come in for eight hours a day. You may not feel comfortable enough to outright reject a request from your employer, but never be afraid to look for other jobs. In an ideal world, you will have at least one other option in your back pocket ready to be used as ammunition when your boss tries to force you into doing something you didn’t sign up for. You only have power when you have the ability to say no.
What do you think about being an employee? Is it a position where you have no power, or are you able to leverage your strengths to exert control over your situation? Do you put up with the creeping scope of responsibilities as time moves forward, or are you able to stick to your guns and reject such tactics? The first step to improving our careers is to start believing that we are worth more than how our employers value us, and if we can find the resources to say no, we can find a job that we can be content going into every day.
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