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Overworked and Undervalued

10 years ago when I entered Corporate America there were still many employees with the idea that you worked to retirement with the same company. Over the last decade, those employees have started to retire, but I also witnessed a lot laid off. These people had invested their entire careers with a company that, at the end of the day, really didn’t care.

Older generations bemoan that there is no work ethic, but in reality, it is the company setting the tone. New generations were recognizing this dynamic and are, therefore, more open to growth opportunities. For a time, hopping from job to job was seen as a negative thing. I would tend to agree if an employee can’t hold a job for more than a few months. However, if an employee has spent several years growing with a company, I can’t blame them if they start looking for further growth. At a certain point, we crave to be challenged and to try something new. With this comes the opportunity for advancement and monetary compensation.

At the same time, many employees encounter situations where the company takes advantage of them, without compensating them for their time. In both of the manufacturing facilities I worked in, you were a hard worker if you put in the time. It really didn’t seem to matter if you actually got anything done between the hours of 7 and 4, if you were working past 6, you were a hard worker. As a mom to a young child, this irritated me. I was a hard worker and I would often outperform my peers, yet I felt pressured to stay past quitting time so that I didn’t look like a slacker. I couldn’t help it if other people didn’t manage their own time.

As I matured in my career, and especially towards the latter part of my career in the public sector, I really stopped caring. It took a lot of self-control and discipline to allow myself to walk out the door at 4 and tell myself that it was ok.

Where are you at right now? Do you have that same sense of obligation? I encourage you to have a chat with your boss. Express your concerns and the value that you bring. If you’re in an hourly position, negotiate a raise slightly less than what you’re making on overtime. If you’re in a salary position, that time is yours and the company can’t demand overtime from you.

If you’re truly bad at managing the time you have, get a coach, read a book, get better. Learn how to more effectively manage your time so that you can spend those hours doing what you truly love to do.