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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 14 September 2012

But ARE They Extra?

Which is absolutely true.  The same applies to volunteer activities, the kinds of things you do for free that serve as an expression of what your personal values are, as well as how committed you are to those values/what you will bring to a job.
Why?  Because the sorts of jobs we're hiring for these days don't involve punching clocks and building widgets.  They require creativity, focus, critical thinking, communication skills - things that you don't get to turn off when the whistle blows.  It's a fact, although a decidedly uncomfortable one, that you simply can't leave your personal stuff at home or leave work at the office - it's the same person society is now expecting to be a dedicated employee, a good parent, a social friend and yes, an engaged citizen.
Relying on the traditional models of motivating labour - financial carrots and sticks - is breaking the bank and isn't demonstrably getting the job done.  Pushing kids to be fully-formed students before they even get to primary school is adding an unsustainable pressure on everyone involved.  Worse, the friction society is facing by trying to force open a closing door is having a host of negative social impacts, including the well-recognized mental health crisis that's racking our workforce, our military, civil society and yes, our schools.  By trying to make every issues about salary and insisting that fights over wages is completely separate from other social woes, we're band-aiding the symptoms and ignoring the disease.  It's like spending billions trying to cure lead poisoning, yet ignoring the lead pipes we're drinking from.
We are increasingly demanding more from employees than just 9 - 5 paid labour; we want their passions, their spare moments, their social communication.  We don't want them to do a job, we want them to live a profession.  Even students are expected to be constantly absorbing skills if they want to stand a chance of success in life.  That kind of commitment can't be bought with dollars - it has to be earned with inspiration, accommodation and participation. 
There are lots of canaries in the coal mine adding credence to the notion that the work/life model we're relying on is past its best due date.   The question remains - are we paying attention, or do we still consider that planning ahead piece to be an extra-curricular activity?

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