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The Career Employee Bill of Rights

by Thuy Sindell, PhD. and Milo Sindell, MS.

Are you a career employee? A career employee is an individual who spends their career working for others versus working for themselves. Don’t get us wrong. There is no judgment here. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a career employee. There’s a certain level of safety, comfort, and stability associated with being employed. Very few us by nature of our personality were actually designed to venture out on our own and brave the world as an entrepreneur. Trust us, we know personally and have done both. It’s painful and it’s not for everyone. That’s not just because it’s tough, sometimes being an entrepreneur is unrealistic. So many of us, choose to become career employees.

As a career employee, have you ever really sat down to think about your rights an employee? We don’t mean your rights as governed by the federal, state, and local government. We mean your rights to feeling appreciated and satisfied in the workplace.

Why would something like the Bill of Rights even matter? Gallup estimates 71% of employees are not “engaged” on the job. This means on most days in many companies, a majority of employees aren’t really giving it their all. One obvious explanation would be that people just don’t want to work, but that would be incorrect. Research over the last 60 years shows that over 70% of the population would still work even if they “won the lottery.”

So why do so many people want to work, but are not engaged with the particular work they’re doing at the moment?

The disconnect between low job satisfaction and the desire to work is due to the feeling that our time and energy is spent fulfilling the goals and dreams of others. The result is a tremendous number of disengaged employees and billions of dollars in lost productivity and employee turnover.

In the past, an employee’s relationship with their job was about work life boundaries. Today and in the future, work is and will be an integral expression of who you are. More than ever before employees need resources that will give them the tools to take control of their job and discover what’s in it for them.

Enter the Career Employee Bill of Rights.

Bill of Rights #1 – You have the right to take advantage of your job and employer.

Most of us feel like we let our employees take advantage of us. Why is that the opposite is not true? Make your job work for you. That’s what the Bill of Rights affords you. Most of us are not taking advantage of the situation. Ask what’s in it for you? What are the opportunities in your current job you are not taking advantage of that will make you more marketable in the job market? What knowledge, skills, and training are you missing out on?

Bill of Rights #2 – You have the right to only give as much as you can.

Why we do feel like we need to give more than our fair share? What are we trying to prove? By staying up til 2am to do work is not proving anything to your employer except that you can effectively do your work during the work day. Give as much as you can during normal business hours. After that, it’s not necessary unless you are taking off early to go to kid’s softball game. Even then, work for a few hours in the evening to make it up…not until 2am.

Bill of Rights #3 – You have the right to have social interactions.

Just because your job dictates that you need to get a certain amount of work done, it doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to leave your cubicle or office. We are social creatures. Get up and walk around, if not to get some fresh air, then at least to catch up with coworkers. Networking is an important part of the job. You never know where those seemingly unrelated conversations can suddenly have relevance down the road or help to create rapport that pays off later.

Bill of Rights # 4 – You have the right to feedback.

If you are being judged at the end of every review period (and paid your bonus based on your performance) you have the right to demand feedback on a regular basis; not just at the end of the year. If your boss is afraid of giving you feedback because he or she is not skilled or is conflict avoidant, that’s not your problem. Take the initiative to ask for the feedback. Otherwise it will never happen. Make sure you take notes and document your meeting as well, because later on when you get a bad review, you have documentation of asking regularly for feedback and not getting it.

Bill of Rights # 5 – You have the right to enjoy your work.

Your work does not have to be an unrewarding chore you wake up to every day. If you dread going to work, that’s your fault. Take a moment to stop and think about what you’ve done to get yourself into this situation. What do you need to do differently? Do you need to change your attitude about work, your behaviors at work, or get trained in some of skills to feel stimulated? Or are more drastic measures necessary such as getting yourself off a dreadful project, changing jobs within the company to go do something else on another team or department, or leaving the company? What will get you up out of bed every morning with a smile? Suffering is optional.

Bill of Rights #6 – You have the right to leave an inspiring legacy.

Whether you’ve been aware, you have been leaving a legacy in every place you’ve worked. Whether that legacy is intentional or inspiring is another issue. Why leave it to chance? Everyone wants to be proud of their work. This doesn’t always translate into actions and behaviors that support this. Take a look at your current projects and role. What positive impact, whether it’s a process or documentation, can you leave behind that will not only make you feel good, but you know you can brag about to your friends and colleagues?

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