I recently read a Finnish article (http://www.taloussanomat.fi/ihmiset/2012/06/26/hyvan-tyontekijan-synkka-salaisuus-ilmainen-ylityo/201232164/137) from a news paper which said the “dark secret of great employees is free overtime work”. This started a chain of thoughts in my mind that I would like to open up in this blog post. In the same time, I am hoping I will clarify my thoughts while writing.
The article is referring to another article where is estimated the workers of a Finnish labor union Pro are making about 2 million free hours yearly. Specialists and managerial roles are told to be with most unpaid extra hours. Some questions that popped up my mind:
- Are they working at their fullest through the whole day or do they take additional “breaks” (like check their Facebook messages)?
- Is this a problem because of bad management or for example employee’s own time management skills?
- Do these people record their hours or this is based on their gut feeling? If they record the hours, how accurately it’s done?
- What are the reasons they work extra hours? Why they don’t get paid for them?
- Is anyone looking after what gets done instead of how many hours are done?
When I look back at my work history, I see myself being one of those doing long days, being enthusiastic about the product we have been building/testing, having very late and early meetings/e-mails/discussions with customers, taking responsibility for doing a great job and working for the team. So, did I work extra hours? Yes, always when I saw it was needed. So, did I get appreciation from it? Yes, always when it was seen by the team/management/customer. So, did I get paid for those hours? Yes, always when I reported the hours in the ERP. Obviously, I could not be paid for hours I didn’t mark.
Do I study “on my own time”? Of course! Do I think my employer should pay for this? No, because it’s something I am doing mostly for myself. I don’t except them to compensate for what they didn’t ask me to do, but I will greatly appreciate if they do so. I don’t want to be someone who is just hanging around there and executing test cases someone else has written. I don’t want mediocrity. I want to carry kittens from burning houses. I want to throw myself over an exploding grenade. I want to become great in whatever I am going to do.
So, what’s the problem here? According to the article, this should not be the case and even a person who is not going to do all that should be considered a great member of staff.
The article does rise up also the concern of people not getting any kind of compensation for their work. I don’t see this as relevant to the “dark secret” because clearly it’s not a secret of someone who is successful. That is a person who is being abused. That is about bad management instead of greatness. Maybe this is what the journalist even meant, but in this case she should re-write the article.
I am not saying everyone has to do it (= work hard; really hard). I am saying you have to do it if you want to be great. It’s not a dark secret all great people have worked huge amounts. It’s easy to say “oh but Einstein was so intelligent” and do nothing to achieve even a bit of what he did. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. But don’t come and ask for the same recognition those get who do it.