If you’re failing at your New Year’s resolution to work harder at your job, rejoice!
Here’s why — many of us are already burnt out to begin with, and quite frankly, more work isn’t necessarily going to benefit us.
In many ways, work has become easier. There’s no question that hunting sabre-toothed tigers was probably dirtier and more labour-intensive work back in the day.
However, there was an off-switch. When you killed the tiger, skinned it and brought it back to the village, you could call it a day and relax with whatever prehistoric precursor to beer there was.
That option often doesn’t exist anymore.
Instead, we’re kept awake at midnight answering emails on our phones. With the demise of steady full-time employment and the birth of technology that has made us accessible 24/7, we’re working to appease our masters, er, employers, for — wait for it — less.
A good job is becoming increasingly rare to find. Part-time gigs and contract workers have become the norm, while the steady nine-to-five union gig has become a rare commodity.
This has forced us to become far better employees in exchange for a smaller and smaller piece of the pie.
From a personal standpoint, I knew community journalists who started in the 1990s and early 2000s with union jobs who were making a good living of about $60,000, when the seniority added up.
Today, that number seems so high, it’s practically laughable. I won’t tell you how much I make, but it’s far less, and accumulating seniority will have a comparatively negligible effect.
Many other workers face similar situations.
Anecdotally, we’ve even heard of construction workers living in literal tents because their jobs can’t even afford them a place to live here.
In light of all this, we’re being told to hustle harder, and people are embracing this. Recently, The New York Times has even put out a piece documenting the rise of #thankgoditsmonday.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that working anything over 39 hours a week is a risk to well-being, and that in spite of our longer work days, most employees are only productive for about four hours a day — diminishing returns begin to set in afterwards.
By all means, do your job and do it well.
But for those pushing to clock in 80-hour work weeks, ask yourself for whose benefit it will be.