Friday, January 24, 2020

Take This Job And Make Me Love It

A few short thoughts on work.

Time On The Clock:

While it is commonly discussed that employees today in many occupations get lots of time to take care of personal business as well as engage in leisure activities while “on the clock”, it is much less discussed how much time “off the clock” they spend engaged in work. The Animal Spirits Podcast (Everybody's Busy (EP.119)) brought this up recently. For many of us after hours and even being on vacation isn’t anywhere close to as disconnected as it used to be—the mobile phone and email has changed all of that. Of course being at work isn’t as dedicated as it used to be either, and the mobile phone has helped change that too. But perhaps the more things change the more they don’t. I assume this was not the norm. What about work golf--in bygone eras was leisure time more consumed by work functions? Or is that an example of leisure time on the job?

What Would You Do For A 10% Pay Cut?

Would you do it for a Klondike Bar? Seriously, while we commonly dream of wonderful jobs with super pay, perhaps we should think about a more realistic trade off. What new job would you trade in your current job for even though it paid in total compensation 10% less? It has to be a real type of job, not Reading-Comic-Books-in-Your-Pajamas Engineer, but it doesn’t have to be actually on offer. The idea is still to fantasize about pay out of proportion to the work. Think about it both with and without a cost-of-loving adjustment. Something in NYC or SAN Francisco might be on my list with the COLA, but there is almost no way something would be without it. Remember that a COLA is not entirely a housing cost adjustment—so maybe those places are still out. Teaching comes to mind for me. Writing does too. Running if not owning a small business might fit the bill. I would just have to forfeit the ownership upside so maybe no. 

Should We All Have Agents?

Thinking about pay, almost nobody likes asking for a pay raise. Jeffrey Tucker has some great advice along these lines. Let’s think about another solution: agents to do it for us. An astute thinker will immediately consider how unions were suppressed to play this role and how inconsistent it is for me to advocate such. Rest assured I am not. This is not about collective action. I am thinking that for business professionals what if all pay negotiations on the employee side were done by agents? 

One big obstacle would be the convoluted employment law structure we have created. Set that aside for the moment. Also, just consider this for certain high-skilled professionals. 

The advantages include less stress for both employees and supervisors, better relations (potentially) between employee and employer as now the agent bears some responsibility for the pay/work arrangement, and more efficient pay arrangements as an agent might be able to better negotiate for pay to match actual value added and an agent might be able to more openly explore options without the risk of burning bridges. 

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