What You’re Worth
I got my first job when I was 16 years old, working the fry station at Chick Fil-A. After a week of grease burns and sore fingers, I was put on the front register. One week after that, I got moved to drive-thru, which I often ran alone. Within a month I received a raise, which wasn’t much to talk about. At barely over minimum wage, I wasn’t exactly overflowing my bank account every two weeks.
I’m 33 now, with very brief period of unemployment between Chick Fil-A and now, thanks to moves, a kid, college, and unexpected life events. During those years, I’ve seen a lot and learned a lot. My three years working at Shoe Carnival was where I learned the most about customer service and employee relations. My time at Health 1st was where I learned to be a leader. But wherever I’ve worked, regardless of the business type, there were always three very distinct types of people around me.
The first is one I unfortunately see a lot; the employee who comes to work simply for the paycheck. They may make $15 an hour, but they put in an effort that isn’t even deserving of minimum wage. More often than not, you can find them taking a smoke break, texting friends, or wandering around instead of doing their job. If it’s not getting half-assed, it’s not getting done at all. These are people who take no pride in their job, regardless of how important or trivial it may be. This attitude and work ethic succeeds in getting you absolutely nowhere.
The second type is also very common; the employee who earns their paycheck to the penny. They’re reliable, efficient, and get the job done. They aren’t habitually late, absent, or away from their assigned area. Most employers I’ve had fit into this category, and about half of the employees I’ve worked closely with do as well. It’s a good place to be, especially when working in a team environment where the success of one determines the success of all. I feel confident knowing that the people I work with are putting in a solid day before clocking out and heading home.
If you fit into this category yourself, that’s fine, but simply striving to earn your paycheck can cause issues. If you’re entering into a company, making $12 an hour, and all you do is put in $12 an hour’s worth of effort, how can you expect to ever advance? If you feel that you’re underpaid, which is common in retail and fast food establishments, does that mean your effort decreases because you feel undervalued? Not looking past the paycheck towards bigger and better things is a huge hindrance. Even if you don’t see yourself with your current company for the long haul, extra effort can go a long way into giving you a glowing reference when you finally get a new job.
The final type is one I strive to be and hope to become more consistently; the employee who works towards the salary desired, not the salary earned. This is the person who goes in and does a million dollar job nearly every day. People are fond of saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Why not also work for the job you want? A suit and tie alone isn’t going to move someone up the ladder; they must have the work history and drive to back it up.
Right now, I am lucky enough to be in a place where I can work towards a salary I want, not the one I have. When I started work here in late August, I was making $13 an hour. It was barely enough money to get me by week to week, but I busted my tail and am now making considerably more than that, having moved from temp status to full-time employee in record time (average times are generally a year or longer). Now that I’m getting paid more, I have noticed that I’ve automatically pushed myself to work even harder.
I’m by no means the hardest working person in the building, but I never leave this place wondering if I did enough, regretting not finishing certain things, or feeling as if I slacked off. My counterpart here is the same way; the two of us are forever busy and never standing still. Whatever the position, whatever the goal, it makes so much sense to suck it up and give it your all. I can choose to be annoyed by my workload or I can choose to enjoy it and tackle it with passion.
It shouldn’t matter if you’re in a job that you consider a career or if you’re in one that is simply a pit stop along the road to your dreams. A little bit more effort goes a long way. The obvious benefits to your employment aside, it does wonders for your self-esteem and self-worth. Is anyone really proud of themselves for trolling Facebook all day on company time? Bragging about getting paid to do nothing sounds foolish. It IS foolish. There is room for fun in every job, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your quality of work. It’s all about deciding what kind of person you want to be. A ten buck an hour guy your whole life, or someone worth twice their weight in gold?