Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Feeling Groovy

You know, I'm really starting to enjoy myself.

Last night, instead of getting stuck into the Big Dude's laundry, I rang one of my best friends and had a lovely, long girly chat. I love this friend of mine, she was one of my greatest supports during my fertility treatment, and yet I've hardly spoken to her in months because I just haven't had time. Then I wrote a couple of decent emails to friends who poured out their hearts to me recently and to whom I had delayed my reply - because, once again, I didn't have time to do them justice. But now I'm taking that time back!

This morning, the Big Dude wanted to stay out until the very last moment I leave for work so that he could have some time to himself. I said, "I'm just wondering where in that plan I get any time to myself?" Pretty good question, huh?

We agreed that he would go out for two hours and come home 30 minutes earlier than he had planned. He was quite peeved. But, hey, he is getting two hours to himself and I'm getting 30 minutes. I think I'm being more than fair. I'm just not putting in so much extra. I'm not quite so eager to please.

And it occurs to me that I've been a little too eager to please at work, too. I've worked long hours that I'm not paid any extra for, because there is a general expectation that people at my level will kick in a little extra. Well, I think that is a reasonable expectation, but how much extra?

Because, in my experience, a workplace will take whatever they can get. They can't be bothered to deal with under-performance or slackness by some people, and so they load up the good performers with more and more work. They don't like to go to the trouble of hiring more people, so they just guilt everybody they already have into doing more. And you know what happens? Some people get fed up and take jobs elsewhere, still no recruitment, still the same faithful retainers working harder and harder, until people start getting sick, they don't see their kids, their marriages start to falter, so they ask for time off. And then those people are told that management is disappointed that they seem to be developing an "attitude problem."

One of the reasons I've been working such long hours is that one of my colleagues wasn't replaced six months ago. They seem to have figured that I can do two full-time jobs, even though I'm supposed to be part-time. In fact, two people haven't been replaced on my team since last year, which means that my other staff have also been putting in far too many hours.

They have been telling us that they simply haven't been able to recruit a suitable person with the right kind of experience, which is probably true because there is a genuine shortage of these people. But yesterday, I was told that they actually had a likely candidate but they were reluctant to hire because we seemed to be managing the workload.

And yes, we have been managing the workload - because my colleagues and I are kicking in many, many extra hours for free. I signed one of their flex sheets the other day, and the poor woman had worked 80 extra hours in the last three weeks. I looked at mine (I keep an informal record of my hours), and noticed that my own also has a huge credit. Meanwhile, our home lives are turning to shit.

This just isn't sustainable. I'm tired of being squeezed at both ends - guilted into doing more and more at home and more and more at work. And I'm tired of loking at my colleagues' pale, exhausted faces as well.

I'm not having any more of that, either.

Refreshed from a little break at home, I have some spare energy to demand more staff at work. This is good. This is very good.

I'm loving my go slow.

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobble stones
Lookin' for fun and feelin' groo-vy!

Ba da, ba da, ba da, ba da...
Feelin' groovy!


Blogger John said...

I always think of stories like yours when I hear about how our productivity as a nation is improving. It seems like most of our improvements are coming from people giving up more of their waking lives to their employers, and cutting back on the other things that make life worth living in the first place.

OK. I'm off my soapbox :-)

4:21 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Whether one is religious or not, there is the old saying that always comes to my mind: "God helps those who help themselves". I'm a firm believer in working smart is much better than working hard to get ahead in this world. If you don't look after #1 then no one else will. And finally, whether it be work or home related, I have no sympathy for anyone who persists in remaining the "permanent victim", having no backbone or courage to push back and take a stand for what one wants, needs, or deserves. Go for it Em!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

Oh yes, pull back from being the responsible one at work. How I hate being that type of person - yes, doing twice the work, covering for the slackers, and the reward? Being given the last shift so you can safely turn out the lights and securely lock the door.

5:03 PM  
Blogger O272 said...

I'm tellin' ya, Em - make the flight and we'll make it worth your while! Who can resist margaritas with American bloggers?! ;)

6:03 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

hi John, Rob, and Rosie, great points!

o272, I agree with you! Emmy(it's ok?), if you ever come to California on Holiday, my wife and I would love to Margaritaize all you all, especially in my beloved Mexico!

7:27 PM  
Blogger freebird said...

Brings to mind that old saying about 'if you want a job doing, give it to a busy person'. But there's also the one about camels' backs and last straws. You're right to stop before they break you, Emily, for your sake and theirs.

Someone say Margaritas...?

3:05 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Oh-ho, margaritas... now you're speaking my language :-)

5:11 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

Something about Simon and Garfunkel songs just makes me slow down and relax... Aaaahhh... Did someone mention margaritas?

If you continue to do extra work without arguing, then I think your superiors will continue to give you extra work. That's true everywhere, and yes, it sucks. So I think it's good to speak up early, and insist on more personnel, as you are.

I've never understood the whole "salaried" mentality where you get paid the same whether you work 40 hours a week or 60.

7:42 AM  

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