I’ve just had my annual salary review and have been done over yet again. Yay! It wasn’t as painful as in previous years as my current boss tells it like it is, rather than wheeling out the barrow of the well worn “HR-provided” lines for managers to their staff, which is the approach my old boss used to take. I appreciate his honesty, not “putting lipstick on the pig” as he often says.
I know I should be grateful that I have a job; certainly that’s the opening gambit of HR and the execs at the moment. This on top of my company having that biggest profit on record last year and sneakily firing thousand of jobs in the US to move to India.
And they had the audacity to say we had to give up our company-funded internet access at home (after encouraging us to work from home to save them real estate costs) to pay for this year’s salary program. Let’s see… the difference between my take-home pay increase and the cost of the broadband is how much? Woo hoo, I’d best not spend it all at once. Thanks HR; more BS from the BS masters.
I would have thought that after more than five years of around 1% pay rises (with CPI running at 3-4%) I’d already “taken it” enough for the company; their profits have increased due to my endeavours and the endeavours of my peers, but my real pay has dropped at the same time. No really, thanks HR! “I’m sorry but in the current economic climate…. you’ve still got a job….”.. what a load!
In my books, if you’ve done a good job for your employer you should be entitled to CPI. If you’ve done a great job for your employer you should entitled to more than CPI. You get sick of being told how “you’re a key contributor”, “one of our top performers” and a “valued asset to the company”, and then having the rhetoric washed away when it comes to salary review. You get blasé about the spin coming out of HR over the years…. sometime around Mar/Apr a note will come out about the new “employee benefits program” or “work life balance” and you know they’re softening you up for a crappy pay review. blah, blah, blah.
So as I continue on the 14-15 hour days, 7-day weeks on this project, I muse on why we work stupid hours. Being in IT I’ve worked a lot of stupid hours over the years. Usually it’s because some exec has over-committed and under-resourced a piece of work or project. And what happens when you bring that project in on time after working stupid hours? The exec get a nice bonus and you get the “thanks for all your hard work” email (if you’re lucky). Occasionally someone up the line will look after you, but that’s rare and doesn’t happen in the current climate.
The worst example was when my exec (three or four managers up the chain) contacted me by instant messaging on a Thursday morning two years ago. As soon as I saw it was him, I knew it was bad; he rarely spoke to me directly. As expected he needed me on a plane that Friday morning (<24 hours away) to help our biggest customer in Japan over the weekend. This was the weekend of my eldest daughters 8th birthday and I was already cutting that short to be in Singapore the following week for another customer. With assurances it would be made up to me I went. Was it made up to me, or more importantly my daughter? No! I realised then that if work is coming before your children’s birthdays, your priorities are out of whack (more fool me). Work will always find someone else, your child won’t have that birthday again.
As kids we’re all taught to work a little harder and do the right thing by other people. It only takes a few years of “naive optimism” to be replaced by reality (read cynicism). At the end of the day, if you’re on the bottom of the heap working your guts out, there’s someone else up the chain who’s doing very nicely out of it. Unfortunately big companies have you over a barrel; you need to do the extra work or it will look bad next pay review time, or you may be the one in line to be out of a job, or if you don’t do the extra work someone else in your team will have to. Technically they can’t do that, but they do. The worst is my colleagues in implementation services; to make their target they need to bill 40 hours a week for every week of the year (if they want to take public holidays and annual leave). So when do they do all the admin they have to do? When do they travel if the jobs not local? On their own time of course. Can they take time off in lieu for that? Sure, they are entitled, but then they won’t make their billable target for the year. Sucks!
So here’s my list of reasons to work stupid hours:
- You’re doing something genuinely good for those around you or the world in general; defending your country, fighting fires, saving lives. Sorry boss… finishing that report at midnight instead of tomorrow just doesn’t compare in the big scheme of things.
- There’s something in it for you, such as guaranteed days off so you can try to make it up to your family. Or reasonable overtime rates to save up for the new car, new kitchen or holiday as payback to the family.
- You’re learning some new skills that may help that next job transfer/promotion.
- You’re doing something you’re genuinely enjoying.
And that’s about it. Reasons such as “the company really needs you to do this” or “it would get me out of a pickle” just don’t cut it. Sorry, but 20+ years in IT has turned me into a WIIFM person. I’ve put in a lot of stupid hours over the last few years and I can guarantee that during that time the HR folks and the execs have done better than CPI compounded.
That’s my rant, back to the mines.