The basics of the employee/employer relationship should be pretty simple. An employer needs a job completed well. Employees get paid to accomplish their company’s goals. That seems like an easy business transaction, right? A company needs something; an employee provides something and therefore gets paid. So where does gratitude come in?
I have two very different jobs. The first, my full-time job, involves spreadsheets and sales analysis. Let me be a little humble, I’m fantastic at my job. I’m good with numbers. I’m better at organizing those numbers into useful and easy-to-understand graphs and spreadsheet so that my sales team and bosses always know exactly what they need to know. In this job, I feel grateful when my bosses go above and beyond a simply paycheck to show their appreciation. But on a fundamental level, I don’t feel the need to constantly thank the owners of my company for giving me a place to work. They need someone to do what I do, and I’m simply filling that need for a price.
Last August, I began a very different job. I started writing for The Gloss. With my first foray into writing, and almost every article since, I’ve felt thankful every time an editor posted my piece. Really, I could give all of B5 media a big, fat kiss on the lips. That goes for you too, Meredith and Amanda (the editors of The Grindstone). Pucker up! Honestly, every week, I feel lucky and grateful and appreciative and every kiss-ass turn of phrase I can come up with. I’m pretty positive that my editors are exceedingly tired of seeing the words, “Thank You!” start and end every email.
In my writing, I’m still in the same position as my full-time job. The site has a need for content, and I provide it. It should be another basic transaction. It’s my confidence that’s changed. Maybe it’s the short time that I’ve been writing; maybe I’m more comfortable with numbers than opinions. Whatever it is, I’m not nearly as sure that I’m providing a quality service to my second employers. And therefore, I constantly thank them for the opportunity to, essentially, do my job.
I’m sure the economy doesn’t help. The poor thing, it’s been the blame for almost everything. Why not be on the hook for my insecurities as well, huh, economy? You don’t mind, right?
Well, it’s easy to say, “You should feel lucky to have a job at all! Tons of people are out of work!” That’s true. Lots of deserving and wonderful employees need jobs. So should every employee feel lucky that we got to keep ours? Are we thankful to our bosses and corporations? After all, a company needs something done, but they don’t need us, specifically, to do it.
It might be a matter of balancing my two extreme levels of gratitude. My full-time employer probably deserves more “Thank you’s” and my editors would most likely appreciate a few less. My security doesn’t need to have an effect at all.
Companies need employees to build their products and sell their services. Employees need an income. It’s a reciprocal relationship. Perhaps both of us should be thankful when the other goes above and beyond. When I work extra hours to finish a product, it’s nice to hear that my boss appreciates that work. And when my company hosts aChristmas party with free booze and lots of giveaways, they definitely deserve a whole lot of gratitude.
Are we lucky to have jobs? Of course we are. But hopefully we’re all striving to be the type of employee that a company feels lucky to have.