The Time Trap: Why getting paid by the hour (even salary) sucks

Imagine that you’ve got nothing to do but you can’t go anywhere.

Your inbox is empty, your tasks for the day are complete and now you just sit and wait for the eight hours to pass. You’ve entered the time trap.

Surely I’m not the only one who has experienced this. In fact I seem to find myself in this sort of situation at several jobs I’ve held so it is not an isolated incident. I know by the nature of my past few positions that I landed in this capacity because of the type of work/industry that I hold a position where I wait around until I’m needed, act, and then wait. It sucks.

They say in a 3 hour game of baseball that there is only about 18 minutes of action.  I think the same principle applies to the jobs I am talking about. The problem with these positions is that they require a warm human body to be physically present (often in supervision / safety situations). The problem though is that warm bodies don’t get paid well due to the fact they can be easily replaced and found in abundance. Sure they might have some skills or other certain strengths, but these can be sacrificed if necessary. However, having a human present can’t. So to reiterate, “the more people able and willing to do the job, the lower the pay”. That sucks.

Furthermore, these positions are not the only type where people are undervalued and underpaid. Office buildings sometimes are full of people who think they are working but actually are just wasting time until it is socially acceptable for them to step out for lunch or leave for the day. Sure some think they are working, are important or matter, but what tasks they do are either superfluous (creating presentations that go unmade, documents that aren’t even read, or other tasks that go unused) and the “workers” don’t contribute to a) the bottom line or b) moving the project/company forward or c) BOTH.

Redundancy and inefficiency are rampant and CEO’s and the like have taken notice and are catching on. The middle management gig is up! Hence the mass layoffs of recent years. Take for example a powerhouse like Microsoft, laying off 18,000 workers at once!  And this article show how to make it work better for the company! There must have been redundancy and inefficiency if you can cleanly part with that many positions so swiftly.

It is easy to bemoan evil big corporations for being uncaring. There are knee-jerk reactions calling for work-share or pay-cuts. But know this; businesses are in business for profit, not to be a jobs program. And profit is good for people. If you work at a jobs program type of employer, know that your position may be safe, but you won’t be valued. In fact they might not know it or say it, but they probably hate you.

It takes the value of profit to pay people more. So ask yourself if you want more but aren’t moving up or ahead, are you even worth it? Do you have a necessary position that contributes to the bottom line? Or are you a warm body, easy to replace?

If you want to make a real difference in the world, I encourage you to do so! Make a change! Today! Somehow, someway because although others may not value you, you should value yourself and believe you are worth it. I’m working on making changes in my life, to move from warm body to something more, and you should too! Join me. Let’s find ways out of this time trap together!

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