Someone has to do the work

My mum left her job recently. There were red flags about her employer early on but she ignored them. The employer didn’t pay her for the salary she was entitled to during her sick leave (she had a certain amount of fixed annual paid sick leave though it was a part time job); and that included some of the days when she was down with Covid. My mum, being a traditional worker just stayed on. Five years without a single increment, working on her tasks responsibly and keeping things in line when the management was not maintaining the structures and protocols laid down.

She knows the structure, the service and work she was supposed to deliver, and she believes someone needs to be doing the work. She can’t quite figure out who will if she doesn’t. So she does the work. This is a model of the responsible worker we were brought up to consider a believe in.

But there can be an alternative: Must the work be done? Are there other ways management can observe things besides having more employees filling out paperwork and doing reporting? Are there tools the company can adopt to automate the tasks? Can the boss write an email or text message rather than call for a meeting? Must the decision be made by the boss? Why can’t the staff be empowered to do so?

The industrial complex around all kinds of systems will not throw up such questions because it takes a human, a creative mind, one that cares and not one who ‘just do’ to ponder over these. We need to consider how to make the work of the future more human, more flourishing for workers, not just the shareholders.