Are We Suckers?

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 719112

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Are We Suckers?

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166


    So are many employers.

    Ideally the worst employers get the worst employees and vice-verse. Strangely enough this is what I have tended to see. The worst employers lose all their decent staff and the worst employees eventually get stuck at a terrible employer. [There are always exceptions.]


    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • David.Poole

    SSC Guru

    Points: 75348

    Render unto Caesar!

    I have often gone the extra mile because I knew that my employer would reciprocate.

    It was either time off in lieu, beer and pizza or something that said "thanks, I really appreciate the effort".

    Unless you work for some huge monolith it is likely that your success will be tied to the success of the organisation so it really is in your self interest to do what is reasonable.

    I'm always mindful that lawyers and accountants bill by the minute and are not thought unprofessional for that practice.

    I accept that my employer has budgetary constraints. What I want to see is that they do the best they can for their staff within those budgetary constraints. In other words they are adopting a continuous improvement attitude to the business, its processes and its policies.

    Organisations that champion bureaucracy, dilution of responsibility and penny wise pound foolish short termism don't deserve a second of additional time. Time is the one thing you have a finite amount of. You can always earn more money but once you're dead you're dead.

    When it comes to time remember that you never know what life may throw at you. You may find that you've worked your guts out hoping to take that huge trip across the world only to find that the door of opportunity shut due to age and infirmity.

  • samot-dwarf

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 984

    Regarding extra money vs. free time for extra hours:

    I think it depends on many factors. I by myself have to work not many extra hours. On the other hand, I have a house and to to pay off the credits. So - if I do some work at a saturday - I prefer to be paid for it.

    The extra money could be spent on a better / longer vacation or to buy some new fancy stuff for me or my familiy members. If I would have free time e.g. at Tuesday instead, this time would be wasted, because my childrens are at school / my wife at work.

    On the other hand a colleague on a previous job prefered free time. He was older (could be an important factor) and had no very high monthly expenses (and a good basis salary), so he had no real benefit for extra money.



    Points: 49983

    I'm one of those who puts in the weekend hours for no monetary pay. But, I do accrue comp time (usable like vacation, but only good for 12 months with no rollover,) for the weekend work.

    The work environment is kind of odd, in that it's a big (very big) organization, but I don't think there's the resources to cluster servers, so when I need to apply OS updates (and we have to apply them within a couple weeks of MS releasing them) either I alert the customers to some downtime during the week, or I do it on Saturday morning when no one is working...

    I do think employers often don't really think when they offer certain perks to the people who either put in the extra effort, or are expected to put in extra effort. As an example, what good is it being told that you can come in late or leave early if you ride in with someone who doesn't have / get the same perk?

    That all being said, I think there's a certain personality that will put in those extra hours, even if they're getting short-changed with no compensation, because they put the customer (whether that be co-workers, or the people paying the company for services) first...

    One of my nieces requires a powerchair to get around and is trying to raise the funds to buy one:

  • eric.notheisen


    Points: 1633

    Work life balance is important. Having said that I have to admit that I have fallen on both sides of this coin. In my thirties I worked a lot of overtime to get my education and to move up in management. Although once in management, I did not expect my employees to go beyond the norm.

    I have worked for executives that would not support bonuses or significant raises for employees who just worked an eight hour day. I never agreed with their position but worked significantly more hours in those situations.

    I have been fortunate that over the past 15 years or so I have been limited to a 40 hour work week. The positions I have been in have provided a work life balance I did not have early in my career. One aspect of these positions is that I have been more focused on productivity while on the job. Parkinson's Law rules. "Work expands to fill the time allotted to it."

  • Craigmeister

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1025

    Wow. This topic is extremely complex. Our community's standard first answer applies here more than just about anything - "It all depends". The comments thus far in this forum have been excellent and the comments in the original article were interesting also, particularly the comments about unions and collective bargaining.

    I echo the sentiments of many - don't allow yourself to be treated as slave labor. Your time is your greatest resource and your free time is an extremely valuable, non-renewable one and should be treated as such by you and your employer. I might go as far to say - based on that description alone, you are not getting paid enough in return for your time, no matter your skill level or job, unless you are being paid a lot. That idea - "a lot" - is completely subjective on purpose. This is part of the complexity - people (are free to) make their own valuations of what they think is worth their time and what their time is worth.

    I would have liked there to have been a section in the article directed at managers with constructive criticism for "Victoria". What was she really feeling? The "why won't they work harder?" question might have been a straw man (she had no complaints about their actual work), or might have been the best she could do to try to explain her morose. Was she instead pining for the family/"we're in this together" feeling she had when she started the company? Once she was able to better define her actual problem, what should SHE do, think about, etc to re-orient HERSELF first, then her company to achieve those goals.

    My 2 cents

  • Aaron N. Cutshall

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8793

    When I first started my current position and the project called for extended travel and lots of overtime, I would receive tokens of appreciation in emails, cards, and the occasional gift or gift card. Of course, it didn't monetarily compensate for the additional time involved, but it was an appreciated gesture. Unfortunately there have been quite a few changes within the company and such tokens of appreciation were one of the causalities.

    I certainly don't mind putting in extra effort when I know that it's recognized and appreciated, but when it the need becomes consistent, even expected, and the tokens of appreciation disappear, that's when it becomes a drudgery. That's also when it ceases to be enjoyable and it becomes just another job -- one to be endured.

    I saw a quote from Richard Branson the other day on LinkedIn that summarizes my feelings: "Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients."

  • Craigmeister

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1025

    Another part of the complexity is the "slave labor" idea might be accepted by people just starting out. The article sort of mentions those people, but the author really glossed over that aspect, only casually mentioning those who willingly work for free, since he was clearly not one of those people.

    In fact, those starting out may sort of need to actually be slave labor to get the experience needed to move up and move on. Actually having experience (no matter how bad of an experience it is) seems to be the coin of the realm now, rather than a degree. It very difficult to get a job now-a-days without it. So they will endure what they can (and hopefully learn all they can) until the opportunity comes along to get them out of that situation.

    That was the reason for my reaction of disgust, frankly, to the "Occupy" folks. There was a point to what they were protesting, but they came across as whiny brats that didn't want to start at the bottom and work their way up like everyone else.

    Does this sort of turn the conversation on its head?

    Is there a "rite of passage" idea that sort of justifies the "slave labor" treatment for people starting out?

  • mike.gallamore

    Mr or Mrs. 500

    Points: 563

    I think you missed an and: compensation should be about results AND hours. Example being the go to ninja to fix all the companies woes should be valuable. But often there is a lot of grunt work too. If you have a dozen departments all wanting to keep installing the latest and greatest on their db/app servers every couple months but no down time during the "working hours" meaning you typically have to work a full day then a few hours in the evening or weekend a couple times a week: you should be compensated for that. It might be brain dead: watch the progress bar, or "babysit the vendor guys" work but if it keeps me away from my personal life no way am I doing that for free. Our boss would have it as a line item or embedded in the price of the product they sell to the customer. Why should Mike corp be any different?

  • Ed Wagner

    SSC Guru

    Points: 286980

    Great editorial.

    It's true that I very much enjoy what I do. I like it and consider some of it to actually be fun. Whether that makes me a sick and twisted individual is another discussion. 😛 I don't know the last time I worked a 40-hour week. Then again, it isn't brutal to me because I enjoy it and I usually put in learning time after my family has gone to bed.

    That being said, I do make a conscious effort to keep it under control. Being the DBA for a smaller company, I could work 60+ hours a week all year. I very much value family time and work-life balance. The effort also helps to prevent burnout. I've come close to it a few times in my career, but was fortunate enough to realize it and scale back in time. I've had the privilege of talking with a few people who have experienced burnout in a big way and have taken it to heart that I don't want to get there.

    Everyone's threshold is different and it's up to each of us to figure it out for ourselves.

  • x


    Points: 23565

    Gary Varga (12/18/2015)


    So are many employers.

    Ideally the worst employers get the worst employees and vice-verse. Strangely enough this is what I have tended to see. The worst employers lose all their decent staff and the worst employees eventually get stuck at a terrible employer. [There are always exceptions.]

  • seseite

    SSC Journeyman

    Points: 80

    I worked for a regional health insurer where everything had been standardized across the board - salaries, bonuses, promotions,etc.. Everyone was reviewed at the same time of year. In a meeting we were told that no one exceeds expectations. So the time expectations grew and the what few perks kept shrinking. Since I was in my grey years, I hung on. A lot of my colleagues moved on. The level of skill was reduced to the level of the H1B's.

    I am retired now. They didn't make it easy to get here, but did make it come sooner than planned. I missed the prid pro quid of my earlier years. From what I have read on some boards, the company isn't that unusual.

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125088

    I'll work outside regular hours, if something critical is broken, or if there is a project with an approaching deployment and there are still some unresolved tasks (but only if all other team members including management join the after hours party). Also, I don't consider reading one technical book a month or attending networking events to be "company work". Personal development is primarily for my benefit on my terms.

    However, I wouldn't allow 50 hours a week to become situation normal simply to prove to someone else that I'm worth my salary or to demonstrate to them that I'm committed. Even Superman enjoys taking Lois Lane out to dinner or kicking back in front of the TV when there aren't any bad guys wreaking havoc.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 396476

    I worked for a couple of dot coms back in the day. They basically used the "death march" approach to software development. Set a deadline w/o understanding the problem, then just work, non-stop, until delivery. If that means 20 people, bleary eyed at 2AM, whatever.

    Never again.

    One. I'm old. I don't want to do that sort of stupidity any more.

    Two. Studies have proven, your accuracy starts to fall, really badly, after about 8 hours (funny how that works out to be the standard work day, wonder how that came about). Defining as heroic someone who just put in a 14 hour day is insane because you probably are going to have to redo 6 hours of that work anyway.

    Put in your time. Go home. Make exceptions for emergencies, but exceptions should be exceptional. As soon as they're standard, they're no longer exceptions. Words have meaning.

    All that said, I'm pretty sure I work more than 40 hours a week. I actually don't measure them. I start working. I stop working. I start again. Working from home, I just make sure I deliver stuff that my company wants me to deliver. If I'm tired. I stop.

    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

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