Sunday, February 13, 2011

work ethic

I've now spent decent chunks of time working in the private and charitable sectors.

Perhaps the main difference between them is in the attitude towards workload. In the charitable sector, you get people saying things like (an actual quote, representative of many similar comments):

"We all get too many emails. I tend to leave mine for a couple of weeks. Then, when I look through them, most of the things have become irrelevant. So obviously they weren't that crucial."

In the private sector, a statement like that merits death by hanging.

You also tend to find that people speak more effusively about their passion for their work and regard their own opinions about their employer's strategies and policies of as being of more import when they work for the charitable sector. But this doesn't, unfortunately, lead to them working harder.

I have on occasion more or less lobotomised myself (or been lobotomised by my bosses) in trying to respond to every single incoming client request within 24 hours. Only to find that the client has forgotten what they asked for and is surprised to get any response at all. Or still hates you anyway, even when you fulfil every demand on time and in full. The private sector can afford to be a bit less uptight about the to do lists, at times.

But I rarely find the laid back attitude of the charitable sector is good for the employer. Frighteningly rarely do enthusiasm and a professed desire to influence the way things are run translate into efficient, productive, imaginative work.

I'm sorry to admit it but it seems that, in general, how hard we work all boils down to money. Will you lose your job if you fail to get that done? Yes? Well....you damn well get it done. No? Well......life is about more than work, after all.

Will you get another contract or a bonus if you do that little bit more? Yes? Well....suddenly that extra hour in the office seems alright after all. No? Well......there's no need to get everything perfect, is there?

Oh, that the pure, unadulterated love of the cause won the same tangible results as hard-earned cash! But it doesn't, really, does it?

(And the effect all this cash-driven culture has on church communities, which rely more or less entirely on volunteers? Which need people - who are paid nothing - to stop fantasising / debating / complaining and get off their butts and do things properly? Well, I'll save that for another day.....)