Yes, that’s my question: why can’t a job just be a job?
It’s funny that over the last 1.5 years, I’ve seen so many people in the same space: work is trying and they are trying to figure out their next steps–whatever that is. One underlying thing that I’ve heard is that there is a wish that work can just be work. Like, let me go in and do my thing and come home and live my life.
But I’ve found through my own experience that most companies don’t just let you come in, do your 7.5 hours and go home.
No, the job had to be more than that.
It had to be your calling. It had to fulfill you. It had to be what you dreamt about at night, what you spent your free time, weekends and vacations thinking about.
It had to be your everything.
When asked during the job interview why I want this job can’t I answer, “I want to pay the damned bills”? Why must I think of ways to say, “I will be an asset to the team! I bring value in these ways!”
I mean, “I want to pay my bills” may not be the best answer if you’re a teacher or nurse or social worker, but if you’re working a job that’s not saving anyone’s life or pouring into the lives of people, does it really matter why you want this job?
Doesn’t it matter more that you’ll show up every day and do your best and not cause drama?
Doesn’t it matter that this job will pay for the things that will make your disposition sunny–like your bills, your vacations, your gym membership, your child’s daycare or university tuition or whatever really matters to you?
It sounds salty, but honestly, at this stage of my life, don’t want to feel forced to perform ‘happy engaged employee’ because it looks good on your Best Employer application.
Companies have employee engagement teams that work to ensure that employees were excited and wanted to work at the organization. Websites were redesigned to highlight why the company was JUST. SO. AMAZING!!!! The employee was so important–until they signed the contract and then that no one thought to really ask the employee what would truly engage him or her.
Or if they did ask, no one really wanted to implement it, so they would do the ‘team building’ thing–let’s do a team lunch or dinner or after work drinks or something else that was totally uncomfortable and awkward because no one wanted to be forced to spend time with their colleagues.
Of course, we’re not talking about the cool colleagues who you actually like.
And all of those events are alright, I guess, but…why can’t I just do the job?
Why must I be encouraged join the company volleyball team? Or go for drinks after I just spent my 7.5 hours with my colleagues? Or feel like I have to golf if I have no interest with golf to find myself in front of the ‘right’ people?
I believe in building relationships with the people I work with and friendships if they happen organically, but management always seemed to have the notion that team-building meant that we had to want to shoot the breeze with people who, honestly, you probably wouldn’t be friends with if you weren’t forced to be together for the sake of the job.
“No, Mary, I don’t want to go for drinks after work with the team because I barely get to see my children during daylight hours and I’d much prefer spend time with them before bed than go over workplace gossip with you and Bob.”
“Well, Steve, I’d much prefer watch Netflix with a glass of wine than hang out with people who I’m resigned to be with every day of the work week from 9 am to 5 pm. Can a sister just live? Besides, you guys annoy me and I need a good few hours to decompress after spending the day with you.”
Management may see that as disengaged and uninterested, but that’s realistic.
If I ever go back to corporate, I want that my job is just a job. I go in and do my best and interact with my colleagues, but my job is not my everything. And it’s not expected to be. I can be a great employee without living, breathing, and eating your company every day.
There is nothing wrong if you love your job and your co-workers–that’s awesome and I wish more jobs were like that, but just let me just live, Susan.
I’m not going to your after-work events.
I’m not joining your sports teams.
I don’t want to go to the spa as a team building event.
Let me do my job and let me go home.
A job can sometimes just be a job.