Workplace gratitude: A simple way to boost your ‘income-producing ability’

I watch a lot of  “House Hunters.It's mostly mindless TV, but I have learned a few things. One of those things is that, in Japan, renters pay their landlords something called “key money.” Key money is, in essence, money you pay your landlord for providing you with a place to stay. After some cursory research, I read that it's a throwback from World War II, when housing was scarce, and, in other cultures, it's often considered bribe money. But I think at its best, it's sort of a way of saying, “Thank you for giving me housing.” In Japan, it literally translates to “gratitude money.”

At any rate, American renters who are introduced to this concept are often taken aback at the idea of giving “gratitude money” to someone for providing housing. After all, there are plenty of apartment options, and it's an equal exchange. As a viewer, I found it to be stupid, too. But there is something about the vague concept of “key money” that I like — not spending the actual money, which I still think is kind of ridiculous, but the idea behind it — the gratitude part.

My parents always taught me to show an extra amount of respect for certain people — my elders, for example, and, in the case of what I want to write about in this article — my employers.

I've always thought respecting your boss is something you're just supposed to do. You put in a little extra effort, a few extra hours during the week — key money, if you will — because it's a way of saying “thank you” for the employment. But quite a few people don't see it that way. Once, my boss asked a coworker to volunteer an extra hour so we could all finish up a project. My coworker responded, “Nope, sorry. You only pay me for eight hours. You're not getting anything extra out of me.”

And while that may technically be fair, I think it's a pretty entitled attitude. But more importantly — I've found it to be a better financial decision to give your boss a tad more effort than you're reimbursed for. In my experience, putting in 110 percent is an investment. It's also the easiest way to insure your career.

Butt kissing versus respect

There's certainly a difference, but I can see how it's a fine line. I've always gotten along with my employers, yet I've never been accused of sucking up (at least not to my face). I think it's because I don't change my personality for a boss. When you stop being yourself, I think that's when you enter butt-kissing territory.

For example, I once had a boss who really liked venting to me about my coworkers. Sometimes his concerns were justified, but I didn't feel comfortable being his confidant. I could've easily engaged in some major butt kissing, but I respectfully declined. Instead of trying to get closer to my boss, I defended my peers. That was the professional thing to do. Sucking up is sneaky and false, whereas respect is professional and genuine.

The investment of gratitude

I was discussing this topic with a friend recently. She offered an example of a woman at her work — let's call her Olivia — who was easily qualified for a higher-paying position within the company. But Olivia constantly complained. Anytime she had to stay five minutes late, she threw a fit. It was always something — bonuses were never enough, the break room coffee wasn't Starbucks, etc. So when the promotion came up, Olivia wasn't even considered. And it wasn't out of spite; it was because, as my friend put it, “no one wanted to deal with her.”

Having an awful attitude ended up costing Olivia. Had she not the reputation of being an angry, difficult employee, she could be making significantly more money.

Lots of us have crappy jobs — I've certainly had my share of jobs I didn't enjoy. But the way I see it, if the gripes aren't bad enough for you to leave, then why not suck it up, since you're going to be there anyway? It seems a hell of a lot more lucrative.

As a freelancer, my friends often tell me I need to charge for an extra 15 minutes here or there, or that I need to bill my boss for an office supply I buy for a project. I mean, I suppose that's fair, but I usually just let those small things go — especially in the beginning of a freelance relationship. It seems anti-frugal, I know. But hear me out.

I want a client to consider me for future projects. I want to be known as the person who needs little attention and delivers big results, not the person who's taking detailed notes on what she's putting into this project and then making sure she's reimbursed every penny. Maybe it's not right that I should have to pay for that $3 office supply, but I would rather my employer know that I'm dedicated to the project than think I'm just doing it for the money. Yes, sometimes — a lot of times — I am mostly doing it for the money. But for the sake of my overall income, I think it's a smarter decision to err on the side of dedication — even if it costs a few bucks.

For me, this is what's worked. I've established long-term relationships with most of my employers, and, even when I quit, many of them have told me the door is always open.

At work, I've found that a little something extra is usually appreciated. And aside from the appreciation, I've found that going the extra mile literally pays off.

But what if you're being taken advantage of?

I wrote an article about “lowering the bar for happiness” a couple of weeks ago, using my career as an example. Someone commented that, after you put in a certain amount of effort at a job, you have a right to expect a big payoff. I get where that person is coming from. There's a definite difference between maintaining a strong work ethic and allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.

Unfortunately, there are some employers that force you to draw a line with your extra effort. Sometimes a boss isn't just asking you to “help out,” they're asking you to carry the whole load so they can slack off, and that's not right. I've been in that situation, and it's certainly not the situation I'm discussing above.

I've been asked to work overtime (no pay) weekend after weekend while my boss took overseas vacations. I've been asked to “not make a habit” of requesting off when I had a family member pass away. These are obvious examples of having my work ethic taken advantage of. When you're already working your butt off and your boss responds by hassling you about going to a funeral — that's taking advantage.

When this happened to me, I began to politely decline my boss's requests to work consecutive weekends for free. It was against my nature to say ‘no,' and perhaps he thought less of me, but at that point, a line had to be drawn. And frankly, I realized that I didn't really want future employment from this company. I maintained a professional relationship, but I made it clear that I wasn't a pushover.

Thinking about the concept of key money, I can totally see how the idea of literally paying your respect is scoff-worthy. But I don't know — I think there's something to be said for showing your appreciation for someone who provides you with housing or gives you a job. Yes, you're putting in your time, but still — they're giving you the opportunity. At least from what I've been taught, that's something to be grateful for. Plus, expressing gratitude pays off, at least in my experience.

What do you think? Have you found it worthwhile to put in a 110 percent, or is 100 percent adequate? Do you think your employer deserves extra respect for providing you with an opportunity?

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Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
7 years ago

I work with a very lazy work avoider who is always late, leaving early, needing time off for every little thing and there are no repercussions.

Some of the efforts of the hardest workers (others -not myself) are ignored while others get every time off or shift change request they ask for.

Extra effort is not always recognized and if you aren’t a favourite then nothing you do matters.

Beth
Beth
7 years ago

I had a coworker like that, too, and those people are the WORST. I didn’t see the point to busting my chops to get work done when this coworker could just coast. I eventually left the company and haven’t looked back.

Paden
Paden
7 years ago

Just working hard isn’t enough. Exceptional quality work gets recognized by everyone. Revise the crap out of that report. Provide intelligent charts. Utilize white space effectively. Think ahead and provide solutions for problems that your boss hasn’t thought of yet. Details matter. Its the details that make your boss look like a genius that make you rise faster. Part of making him look good is presenting (and explaining) your work to him in person so he sounds like a genius when he presents your work to his boss. It should be made clear to your boss that you went above… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina
7 years ago
Reply to  Paden

I think loyalty to your employer has gone out the window in business because in the last decade businesses have shown that what counts to them is the bottom line and loyalty to employees has gone.

Julie
Julie
7 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

Employers recognize which employees contribute to the bottom line and which ones don’t. A lot of the layoffs we saw in the past 5 years were actually terminations for poor or mediocre performance disguised as layoffs.

Another Kate
Another Kate
7 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

Julie, some layoffs do get rid of dead weight. But there are also layers of layoffs where first an employer cuts fat, then muscle, then bone. There are also “spreadsheet layoffs” — a department is ordered to trim a certain amount off the personnel budget, sorts employees by salary and cuts the folks with the highest salaries. I know of instances of both of these. Doing your job well helps, but it certainly doesn’t make you safe.

Jenne
Jenne
7 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

Many corporate employers are in the habit of just assuming they can boost their stock price by ‘downsizing’ and expecting their ‘exempt’ employees to work more hours ‘until the job gets done.’ Hopefully they are paying people enough that their employees can use “Get Rich Slowly” principles to save up and get out. You don’t get back those 20-30 hours a week you gave away, especially if you can’t sell your stock to profit from your exploitation. Hopefully we can all save up enough that we have the flexibility to give the shaft back to employers that don’t respect their… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

I love my job but I refuse to kiss butt to get ahead. We have had people who do suck up in the past, and it’s pretty obvious when it’s not authentic.

Chasa
Chasa
7 years ago

I completely agree with this post; if you want to move up you need to be the ‘go-to’ person. Dependable, someone people want to work with. I love the idea of gratitude to help you get there. It’s a little change in your thought-process that probably contributed significantly to happiness. When you make yourself think ‘I get to’ vs. ‘I have to’ it must plant the seed for a more positive view on something. I’ll take this with me today. Great article.

RockySense
RockySense
7 years ago

Whether or not you give 110% or just 100% depends on the job, I think. I give 110% at my part-time job, but it’s the sort of job where you’d be awesome just by giving 90% because most of the other employees only give about 75%. For me, it’s just my personality to try to excel at everything I do (perfectionist problems…). More important than effort, though, as was mentioned in this article, is general attitude. You don’t have to work your butt off to show your appreciation for your boss – just being pleasant to him/her can really do… Read more »

Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

I was walked all over and taken advantage of in a previous job, so I set what I believe are some pretty reasonable boundaries with my current employer when I started. – I’ll take work calls after hours, but don’t ever call me after 9pm. – I’ll stay late a couple days a week, but because I get in an hour before most, I like to leave on-time most days. – I’ll work after hours and on the weekends, but remotely from my laptop at home. I think it’s been a healthy balance between not letting my employer walk all… Read more »

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

That’s actually further than I would even go. If yo’ure working late several times a week, taking calls up until 9pm and working from home on the weekends, well, that’s nearly two fulltime jobs instead of one! Unless they plan on paying me a little extra sometimes, then I’m only going to work a little extra sometimes. I’m not a jerk about it, and since the boss doesn’t usually ask us to stay late, I’ll do it every now and then for him. But I work so that I can spend time with my family and feed them. If my… Read more »

Another Kate
Another Kate
7 years ago

I’m with you, and you remind me of something I recently read about a surveys of Wharton business school undergrads. In 1992, students said the expected to work 53 hours per week after graduation. Now they expect to work 70 hours per week! What is wrong with this picture? I am happy to put in extra effort when it is needed, but if a business asked me to put in 70 hours a week on a regular basis, it’s time to hire more people. Our society has become utterly insane.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

Maybe only putting the limits that I established made my job seem bad. But in reality, it’s definitely not 2 FT jobs. Yeah, every once in a while there’s a crazy week where I end up working 50-60 hours, but then I take a step back and take a few mornings for myself. And I don’t feel bad if I go to the gym at lunch and am gone for 90 minutes instead of 60 if I come in earlier than most people. We’re a project based company, so none of us are on time clocks. It’s all about getting… Read more »

Vanessa
Vanessa
7 years ago

Asking an employee to work for free, even for an hour, doesn’t sound legal to me. I think your friend was right to decline, though I would have phrased it differently. That said, I’ve definitely put in my fair share of unpaid hours, not because anyone asked me to, but because of my own standards I have set for myself. I’ve had coworkers with the same standards, and I’ve gone the extra mile partly because of them. I know that carrying a little extra load helps lighten theirs and they would do the same for me. But having a reputation… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

I wonder if the job was salaried or not. If it was, I don’t think it should be a problem and was bad judgement on the part of the employee to decline. I agree with Kristin that the one hour she declined will cost her so much more in the long run. On very rare occasions my husband has to work at night or on the week-ends. I consider that something that helps him get raises and bonuses. I think of all the time he might show up a little bit late for work or end up chatting for 10… Read more »

superbien
superbien
7 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Vanessa, you’re right that hard work and good attitude may not insulate you from a layoff… but I know that among my coworkers who were laid off, I fight to find new jobs for the good ones, the ones who were pleasant and worked hard and cared about the mission. I’ll keep them in mind if I hear of something new, or if I see a job listing, or talk them up to managers for potential future re-hire. The slackers, I hope they find something new, but I’m not going to put out any effort. So it can really pay… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

I think it’s important to have a strong work ethic, a good attitude and a healthy work/life balance. (Easier said than done, of course!) But I also think gratitude is important. A thank you to a colleague or employer who helps you out will go a long way, for example. These days, half the battle in job hunting is chemistry and culture, not just skills and experience. The majority of jobs are never advertised, so a personal referral goes a long way. I don’t think we should put up a false front or use people, but rather good things can… Read more »

Sonja
Sonja
7 years ago

I feel that in a lot of cases it’s quid pro quo. I put in what I get back. That means that if I have a nice employer, I’m nice back. If it isn’t the end of the world if I’m 10 minutes late one they, I won’t hesitate to stay 10 minutes late if stuff needs to be finished. I’ll happy buy some of my own office supplies, but I expect no complains if I print of a ticket to a movie I forgot to print at home. If on the other hand every minute I work is strictly… Read more »

Rya
Rya
7 years ago

Kristin is right. I’ve also had a fair share of co-workers who complain about every little thing (yet stay with the company for years!). That seems CHEAP to me. But on the other hand, I’ve also had employers trying to push “home work” on me in my free time… that seems CHEAP, too. It’s okay to put in a little extra effort but only if you can speak up about it – so you get noticed and appreciated. Otherwise you’ll just work long hours and still get passed on for promotions. Learn how to be appreciated first, then put in… Read more »

Jean-Paul
Jean-Paul
7 years ago

I work in an industry where being taken advantage of is common. It’s not the only one either. IT and system administration. I spend a lot of time in forums helping people realise just how bad their workplace is abusing them. Underpaid, overworked, and seriously unhappy, unhealthy workers. I will never give more than my allotted hours. Work is now a purely business/financial transaction. There is one advantage to being a contractor, if my employer wants more of my time, they know they have to pay for it. I have found it a much more honest interaction and has left… Read more »

Jane
Jane
7 years ago

Interesting post. It reminds me of a very part-time job I had in graduate school that I was essentially doing for fun. Then my boss made it progressively less fun for dubious reasons (in my opinion). In response to this, I told her the truth, namely that if I don’t enjoy the job anymore, I won’t come. My hours were flexible from the get go and my skill set so specific that they couldn’t easily replace me. I know it was brazen to be so frank with a boss, but I didn’t care at the time. Of course a year… Read more »

shawmutt
shawmutt
7 years ago

In the US, American worker productivity has steadily increased, while wages have stagnated. Don’t even get me started on the separate topic of increasingly expensive and more restrictive health benefits. American workers are already are giving 110%. I don’t know about where you work, but here they are very slow to hire more help and don’t care about work/life balance. If you don’t have an excuse (like kids), overtime is expected. Supervisor and above level are salary and expected to be available 24/7. Well, not all the way up. From the director level up they are not expected to be… Read more »

Anne
Anne
7 years ago
Reply to  shawmutt

Actually I was wondering if the author has children because that makes a world of difference in overtime attitude, paid or unpaid. The work day is simply overwhelming to begin with when there are children who need their dinner and their parents, especially if you are a single parent.

Back in my single parenting days I was always considered an excellent worker, but I wanted out of there in the worst way when the day was over. My second job (and more important one to me) was just starting.

Julie
Julie
7 years ago
Reply to  shawmutt

Where are all of these American workers who give 110%? I would like to hire a few of them. Only a handful of the workers that I employ fall into this category, and I can assure you that they will never be part of a reduction in workforce.

BD
BD
7 years ago
Reply to  Julie

We’re out here, putting in our resumes all over. Most of us get passed over, because we don’t have any “ins” into the company. We aren’t the owner’s daughter or son, nor is the head of HR our aunt. We have strong work ethic, and work hard, but we’re never given a chance to show that to anyone.
What company do you hire for, and where are you located?

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago

I agree with PoP above. Yes, work hard, but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Don’t do things for free. Ask for something in exchange if you go above and beyond. Otherwise people value you less. This is especially a problem for women.

Kraig @ Young Cheap Living
Kraig @ Young Cheap Living
7 years ago

I think you need to put in the extra 10%. It’s expected of you as an employee. There are simply too many people out there willing to put it in and if you aren’t you will be replaced. I’m heavily involved in promotion decisions at the company I work for and often people are overlooked, even if their work is good, because they don’t seem to put in anything extra. If you’re goal is to move up the ladder within your company or within another, yes you should put in the extra effort. But I think everyone already knows that.… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy
7 years ago

I am lucky in that I work in an environment that recognizes when people do put in a little extra, whether it be in recruitment, or being available and responsive, or putting in a little extra details when finishing up documents. Not necessarily monetary reward, but in job security. However, I try to be proactive and responsive during work hours. Sure maybe work late IF there is a deadline, but NOT make it a regular practice, otherwise work/personal life lines get increasingly blurred the employer takes the employee for granted and the employee gets stressed out. Some bosses do not… Read more »

MDAccount
MDAccount
7 years ago

Am I the only one who wonders why this article was written for GRS? It’s an interesting issue but it seems a considerable stretch to claim it’s about personal finance and the effort to make it sound financial is the weakest part of the story.

GRS is changing and I’m afraid I’m one of the grumpy old-timers who thinks it’s not for the better!

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago
Reply to  MDAccount

MDAccount, I appreciate that you found this article interesting and enjoyed the JD-era of GRS. But I disagree that this has nothing to do with personal finance. JD once wrote an article (which I linked to here) about the worst job he ever had. He started it by saying “Your job is one of your most important assets.” That’s what my article is about–it’s not “part of the story,” it’s an article about insuring your career, which I think covers personal finance territory. On a personal note, I have a ton of respect for the GRS readers (and, actually, sort… Read more »

Beth
Beth
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

Kristin, I have enjoyed your posts from day one. Please keep doing what you’re doing! I think you bring life to what could be a dreary topic, and I appreciate it.

I also think this post is completely spot-on for GRS. PF isn’t just about paying off debt and finding the best ways to invest for retirement. You need to figure out how to keep making income and improve your work situation in your favor, too.

LeRainDrop
LeRainDrop
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

Keep up the great writing, Kristin! I agree with MDAccount that this blog has shifted in an unfavorable way since JD started phasing out, but that is due to certain other new writers — NOT you! — and too many non-substantive guest posts. You’re one of the current writers whose thoughts I always appreciate readings. At the least, on this day — the day of my 2013 salary adjustment and 2012 bonus payment — your post is helping me to keep a more positive attitude.

Holly Johnson
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

Kristin,

You make an amazing point! I have found all of your posts spot on and well written. Personally, I think that almost anything can be related to personal finance in one way or another anyway.

Have a great day!

Phoebe @ www.allyouneedisenough.com
Phoebe @ www.allyouneedisenough.com
7 years ago

I agree that it can really help if you put in extra effort, but I wouldn’t do so to express gratitude.

Instead, I put in extra effort because I take pride in what I do and want to do it to the best of my ability. This has also paid off in allowing me to get numerous promotions in a short period of time.

I personally don’t feel gratitude for simply being employed as I produce for my employer quite well, and for that I get paid.

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago

I agree! I was actually going to write a separate section on how having a good attitude is ultimately for you–not them. But alas, word limits. At any rate, I just wanted to add that I’m talking about 110%, not 200%–if you’re basically working a second job and not getting reimbursed for it, that’s really ridiculous. In my experience, putting in an extra hour every other week or something (coupled with a good attitude about it) has helped most bosses view me as a valuable employee. Of course, there were some bosses who fell under the category of “you give… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

I totally love this post and can relate to what Kristin is trying to get across. I work in higher education at a prestigious school with a lot of Type A personalities; hard work is highly valued but so is work-life balance. Some years back, our particular department was run by indifferent-to-abusive supervisors. I did my best at work and would go above and beyond the call of duty, including a small amount of unpaid OT (I’m hourly) if necessary and usually on my terms (doing my best to avoid going over the line of being taken advantage of). The… Read more »

Mike @Personal Finance Beat
Mike @Personal Finance Beat
7 years ago

There’s no need to be a “kiss-up”, but there’s something to be said for being an indispensable part of a team at your job.

Usually that is achieved by busting your butt and proving your worth, not necessarily showing “gratitude” to your boss — they will respect you a lot more for the value you provide to the company than how grateful you act around them.

Alison Wiley @ Diamond-Cut Life
Alison Wiley @ Diamond-Cut Life
7 years ago

I do think this applies to finances, if you are in the paid work-force. Everything that both Kristin and the commenters have written makes sense to me. A positive, grateful attitude is a powerful thing, both for raising your daily quality of life and also for promotability. But assertiveness and the ability to draw boundaries is also crucial. Which thing to do on a given day depends on the situation, but in my view everyone needs both of these skill-sets in the course of their work-life. If you were excellent in both these arenas, I think you’d have a diamond-cut… Read more »

tekym
tekym
7 years ago

Expecting to be paid for all of your work is not an entitled attitude. If you’re trying to climb the ladder, yes, making yourself look good is obviously a good idea. But being a doormat doesn’t make you look good. There is a reason 40 hours is the standard: a myriad of studies were done in the early 20th century that found that 40 hours a week was about the most a person could work while maintaining a certain quality and quantity of work. A person working for more than 40 hours a week tends to produce either not much… Read more »

Amber
Amber
7 years ago

This is a very thoughtful article. I enjoyed it. I’m currently dealing with a situation in which a co-worker has been late multiple times and I can’t leave until she gets there. Since I’m the driver for my household, this makes my family members late. I should also add that I changed my schedule for the convenience of this co-worker. In other respects, I think she’s good to work with, so I’m trying to decide how handle the situation professionally. I have already talked to her about it but she’s always got an excuse. It’s very frustrating.

Juli
Juli
7 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Do you have a supervisor you can talk to? Sounds like talking to the co-worker isn’t working, so you may need to go higher.

Amber
Amber
7 years ago
Reply to  Juli

Unfortunately, the supervisor is not only “buddies” with the co-worker, but she is often late herself. The manager is stretched thin and really only wants to be told about emergency-type situations. It’s a difficult scenario, for sure.

Diana L
Diana L
7 years ago
Reply to  Amber

If she’s always late, she’s not going to change even if she understands how important it is. So the solution is for you to adapt to her idea of time – if you have to leave exactly at 8:00, tell her that your family’s schedule has changed slightly and you need to leave no later than 7:30 (or 7:00 if she’s sometimes really late) and make that the new schedule.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

I think it depends a lot on the situation as to how you should approach it. I agree that if you’re treated with respect and that if the employer understand that life outside of work is important, then you should definitely be willing to put in some extra time and effort. But we also work in a time period where more and more of the pie is going towards capital and corporate profits are surging. If you’ve tried to negotiate your salary and are turned down or don’t feel that you’re being compensated fairly for the extra time you could… Read more »

Kelly@Financial-Lessons
7 years ago

I fully agree with this post. It definitely pays off to put in 100% in a job if not only to be seen as one of the hardest workers in the company, and to be rewarded later down the road. I would never say no to an employer if they asked for a little extra here and there as you’re completely right, they should be thanked for employing you as there are endless candidates out there. Of course at some point you must draw a line if you’re being taken advantage of and that can be tricky, but often those… Read more »

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

Great article.

We make ourselves the victim when it allows us an excuse for not succeeding (fear of failure). You line up the reasons why your boss did this and that, and then you don’t get the promotion and it’s not your fault, your boss is nuts.

I’m trying to work on going 100% and being ok with failing still. When I do that, I feel grateful for all of the opportunities I have.

Peter
Peter
7 years ago

Great article. It’s pretty much standard operating procedure to “step-up” at your job if you want to be considered for raises and promotions. Nothing will get you passed over faster than saying “That isn’t my job…”

Stacie
Stacie
7 years ago

If I’m honest, I probably give about 90%. Not that I don’t work evenings, weekends, and holidays (which happens pretty frequently) but because I do work those times outside of normal business hours, sometimes I slack off a bit during business hours. I’m still one of the company’s most productive workers, but the ROI just isn’t there to work even harder. I make every deadline, but I don’t freak out about getting things done really early, or work late to finish non-deadline tasks. I could absolutely work harder – but why? I’m already getting the highest bonuses and raises in… Read more »

Julie
Julie
7 years ago
Reply to  Stacie

Stacie, You are probably one of very few people who are honest/realistic about what they contribute. If there was some easy way to actually measure, my guess is that we would find that most people who say they give 110% or even 100% actually do not. In fact I doubt you would find any employee who works at 100% productivity during their entire work day. Most will slow down, speed up, become distracted,visit with co-workers, make personal calls, check the internet or stop to daydream/worry sometime during the work day. Thus many employees consider that they gave 100% just because… Read more »

imelda
imelda
7 years ago
Reply to  Julie

Do you really think it’s possible to work at 100% productivity for 8 straight hours?

MamaMia
MamaMia
7 years ago

This is the reason I’m self-employed. Back when I used to work for others, like Kristin, I was taken advantage of because of my work ethic. For my first job, I was hired as a part-time worker but put in many more hours without pay. Another employer tried to hire me for a second part-time job without making me a full-time employee, even though my time added up to 50 hours a week. Because these were causes I believed in and because I really needed the work to put me through school, I didn’t complain. Now, as I expand my… Read more »

Greg
Greg
7 years ago

I haven’t enjoyed reading a GRS post as much as this one in a long time–well done.

One of my favorite things about my job are how people are treated. I rarely deal with a coworker that isn’t putting in their due effort, and everybody seems to get along fine….so a lot of these points aren’t applicable to me. I’m also in a position that didn’t get hit too badly with the economic recession, so if I was ever mistreated, I wouldn’t even think twice about leaving.

ConventionalDee
ConventionalDee
7 years ago

I agree with this post. Sometimes it’s the little things that an employer notices and make you indispensable. I recently left my job where I played a significant role, and also did a lot of the little things. My bosses were very sad to see me go, but they also gave me something to show their appreciation for the work I did.

Jess
Jess
7 years ago

I give 110% when the need arises – for the most part, doing 100% is my goal. I work in retail, and during Christmas last year, I was working full-time at the office and up to 25 hours at the store some weeks. Every now and then the store manager would ask me to stay beyond my scheduled night shift to help clean up and close the store, and I said yes because she treated us very well. It ended up working out in my favor, as I got a mini-promotion for the holiday season this year. I don’t think… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
7 years ago

I work hard when I’m at my job, but I don’t work weekends, evenings, or at home. Sometimes I’ll stay a little late if I really need to get something done, but that’s it. I’m eligible for overtime, and so are most of my coworkers, so it’s not like management really WANTS us to work 50-60 hours a week, either. Seems like most of my colleagues are like me, “work to live” people who are happy to work from 9:00-5:00 and then go home and live their lives. Yes, there are people who work much longer hours; but they’re the… Read more »

Geri
Geri
7 years ago

I think there could be some gender implications for this topic. Where a woman draws the line between financially-wise going the extra mile and being taken advantage of might be different than where a man would draw the line. Women are expected and socialized to give and give and give and expect nothing in return. I worry that some women who go the extra mile out of respect and gratitude to their bosses might not get much back since it’s just assumed she’s by nature sacrificing.

Jenne
Jenne
7 years ago
Reply to  Geri

Worse yet, when a male-female couple has children, the woman’s employer is likely to get shorted because the man’s employer expects his gratitude to extend to failing in work-life balance.

My family had to have this exact talk with the male parent, because his employer’s habit of panic about what was necessary meant that my employer was putting up with me having to reschedule my days for all child-related tasks.

Judy
Judy
7 years ago

I think as Americans we tend to lack boundaries both as employees and bosses. We have become a society where we think we should have everything right now and it doesn’t matter what the cost is (time, money, imposing on others). I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I used to be an employee and 5 years ago I started my own business (personal training). I give 200% no matter what. In order to start my business I worked for 4 years, 7 days a week (sometimes 3 jobs) in order to start debt free. When things became stable… Read more »

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago

Reading all of your comments has made me realize that I’ve been really lucky to have bosses who are appreciative and understanding of a work-life balance. My last employer in Houston always told me, “if you don’t want to work overtime for a client, you never have to,” even though I was glad to do it because of the extra pay. But I’ve also had jobs where I was totally unappreciated, like the one I mentioned in the story. In that job, I was fine with putting in my required 40 hours and then going home at 5 on the… Read more »

deedee
deedee
7 years ago

I’m an overachieving and reliable employee. In every job I’ve been in, I’ve quickly become the go-to person for most everything, including tasks well beyond the reaches of my duties. If stakes were high and something needed to get done well and quickly, it always came to me. The only thing I have ever been rewarded with for being like this is MORE WORK. Never a raise or promotion. And that work was usually originally slated for a coworker who was less than reliable, yet due to seniority, got paid 30% more than me. Meanwhile, people around me who made… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago
Reply to  deedee

Yes, this exactly. Women need more money, not dancing dogs (or whatever warm fuzzies are made of).

http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/women-need-more-money/

Diane Romano-Woodward
Diane Romano-Woodward
7 years ago

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” Jim Rohn I interpret this as being about working hard and bringing more to the job than asked. You will be noticed. You will learn as well, and if it is not appreciated and rewarded in that job it will be in the next one …move on…

TheMerricat
TheMerricat
7 years ago

Your time and energy is an asset, and like most assets you should spend it wisely and in the manner that has the best ROI. If that means spending it on ‘proving’ to your employer how much of an asset you are, then that’s what it means. But you should NEVER, EVER, just throw it away due to ‘gratitude’ or some other such BS. Bribe money is bribe money, regardless of the name you give it, and all paying it does is mark you as someone they can lean on to get more when they want to. I guarantee you… Read more »

celyg
celyg
7 years ago

Remember that we all teach our employers how to treat us. If your boss emails you at 9pm and you answer, you’ve just taught your boss that you will answer emails at 9pm. I’m in an industry that is “live” 24/7, so I can always do more work if I want to. I am an overachiever but now I set boundaries. If people need me after hours or on the weekend, they text me — then I check email. (That’s not to say I’m not checking anyway, but I don’t respond. :)) I agree that complaining and nit-picking, especially early… Read more »

Paul in cAshburn
Paul in cAshburn
7 years ago

There have been lawsuits where people worked more than 40 hours per week, and then sued for the extra time (even years later). At least in government, filing a timecard that says you worked 40 hours – when you really worked 43 – is “falsification of an official record”. Best rule to follow: Work what you charge, and charge what you work.
Of course, if your employer doesn’t require timecards, then you’re free to work whatever hours you like – right up to the point of barely not getting fired. 🙂

Sheryl
Sheryl
7 years ago

A lot of it depends on the situation. When I’m working an hourly wage job, I’m going to go farther through attitude and work ethic. I’m not going to give my employer my time for free when they’re paying by the hour. If I’m on a salary basis, I’m still going to try to give a good attitude and work ethic, but I’m more willing to work extra hours within reason. But those jobs have also given me a hard and fast rule: I will not care about the business more than my boss does. If he or she isn’t… Read more »

Tiara
Tiara
7 years ago

I generally give 100% in my job, but there are times when 110% is needed and when that happens, I gladly give it. My boss is wonderful and treats me great. When he asks for an extra effort, I am happy to pay that respect and good treatment back to him.

Marc
Marc
7 years ago

I’m curious about how much people work overtime in a salaried position? Say you make $40,000 a year. I believe by definition that is assumed to be 2,000 hrs of work a year. A boss I had a while back had “overtime” projects that they wanted worked on. It was “only” 5 hrs extra a week. Those 5 hrs every week was another 210 hrs (52 weeks x 5 hrs). So in reality I wouldn’t be making $20 an hour. I’d be making $18.10 an hour. Say you get promoted because you’re working those extra 5 hrs a week and… Read more »

Michell
Michell
7 years ago
Reply to  Marc

I would like to add, that as a “salaried” employee who works in state government, that I am required to work at least 40 hours a week. If I work more than 40 hours per week, I do not receive extra pay. If I work fewer than 40 hours per week, I have to request and use my annual leave. Something here is not equitable. You would think that as a “salaried” employee, what would matter is getting the work done…and if you work 45 hours one week and 35 the next, then it all comes out in the wash.… Read more »

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago

While I like the ideas in the article, I don’t know if I agree with it’s attitude. You shouldn’t be grateful your employer is employing you. They aren’t doing it for your benefit, they are doing it for their own. It’s a mutually symbiotic relationship. You help them, and they help you. If you are going above the average because you’re grateful to your employer, you are setting yourself up to be taken advantage of. It’s not the situation you want. You should go above the average because you want your employer to be grateful for you. It’s all about… Read more »

MamaMia
MamaMia
7 years ago

Since this article begins with the idea of giving “key money” to landlords, I thought I’d bring up another Japanese concept: the salaryman. Wikipedia describes the salaryman as such: “In modern use, the term carries associations of long working hours, low prestige in the corporate hierarchy, absence of significant sources of income other than salary and karōshi–’death from overwork.’… [Other characteristics include:] – Lifestyle revolves entirely around work at the office. – Works over-time on a daily basis. – Diligent but unoriginal. – Thoroughly obedient to orders from the higher levels of the company. – Feels a strong emotional bond… Read more »

Armando
Armando
7 years ago

Thanks for sharing your thoughts through this post…Actually what you shared is a dilemma of most hardworking employees. Sadly, not all of them brave enough to draw the line because of fear to loose their jobs. I hope employers/bosses who take advantage of their employees would value their hardworking employees.

My Financial Independence Journey
My Financial Independence Journey
7 years ago

In every job I try to do my best and be courteous and helpful to my boss and coworkers. Sometimes these things are reciprocated and sometimes they aren’t.

If things aren’t working out well, then it’s time to start looking for a new job.

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago

Thoroughly enjoyed your article today. Just wanted to correct your interpretation of “key money.” In many Asian countries, the use of “key money” is a form of collateral for the landlord, which the renter will receive (the full amount, less damages, fines, etc) once the lease terms have been fulfilled. The landlord can invest the money and keep gains on the invested “key money,” but must return it at the end of the lease. Ultimately, this is a safe and secure contract between the two parties. So, to relate this to your article, you can consider this “key money” not… Read more »

Kris
Kris
7 years ago

When my employer left the firm he’d been with for over 20 years, he asked me to come with him and start a private practice – with a 20% pay raise. In the 15 years since, I’d have to say it’s been mutually beneficial – my “hours” are 8 to 3 (at the time we left the other firm I had a pre-teen son at home and needed be there when he was) – but these days I’m almost always in the office before 7 and frequently stay until 4 or so, and when we’re busy, I often work later… Read more »

guestgirl
guestgirl
7 years ago

i show gratitude to my landlord by paying rent.

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