MAIL­ING IT IN

For some em­ploy­ees there are rea­sons, beneÀts to not giv­ing it their all

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Job Market - — Marco Buscaglia, Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

Nolan Quinn says he first re­al­ized he wasn’t giv­ing his usual 100 per­cent at the of­fice when his boss sug­gested he spend some time with a co-worker to “pick up on some of what he’s do­ing” for a few new strate­gies on land­ing clients.

“He sug­gested a guy who was about 10 years younger than me and half as good,” Quinn says. “I did the ‘smile-and-nod’ thing and then I took off for lunch and didn’t come back un­til the next day.”

Quinn, who was work­ing for an of­fice-leas­ing firm in Chicago, said he took “a hard look in the mir­ror” that night and re­al­ized some­thing he knew but could never ad­mit. “I was be­com­ing a hack,” he says. “I was just go­ing through the mo­tions.”

The 47-year-old Tin­ley Park res­i­dent says he knew he could do just enough to get by, so that’s what he did. Although Quinn says he re­al­ized later that his ac­tions were ob­vi­ous, his in­ten­tions were not. “I was re­act­ing to two straight years of no bonuses,” he says. “The firm was un­der new man­age­ment and they upped our bonus goals to th­ese ridicu­lous num­bers, so I didn’t even try. I just kept do­ing what I was do­ing.”

The thing is, Quinn says, is that what­ever he was do­ing was enough. “I stayed there for an­other five years and watched ev­ery­one around me make a lit­tle more money for a lot more work,” he says. “I felt pretty good about that.”

Get­ting their money’s worth

While she says she would never ad­vise her clients to work less than their peers, Suzanne Belle, a ca­reer coach in Char­lotte, North Carolina, says she can un­der­stand why cer­tain sit­u­a­tions at work can cause em­ploy­ees to feel less mo­ti­vated. “It’s pretty ob­vi­ous — flat raises, cut bonuses, ex­pected, un­paid over­time — what causes em­ploy­ees to be­gin to take their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at work less se­ri­ously,” says Belle. “When you be­gin to feel like you’re no longer val­ued, you change your ap­proach to the job. You just do it — and to most peo­ple, it’s still good enough. Un­less you do some­thing re­ally dra­matic, if it’s not enough to get you fired.”

Linda Salin­ski says she went through a sim­i­lar spell at her job a few years ago when she was passed over for a pro­mo­tion. “It was some­thing I re­ally thought I de­served but my boss and his boss did not, so they brought in some­one else,” says Salin­ski, a re­cently re­tired of­fice man­ager in Akron, Ohio. “I went about my busi­ness and did my job, which was run­ning a small data-en­try team, but I stopped go­ing to com­pany events and I cer­tainly stopped com­ing in early and leav­ing late. They of­fered me the job af­ter six months when she crashed and burned but I didn’t take it. I was fine where I was.”

Salin­ski says she de­cided to work to the level that they deemed my value. “Ei­ther you’re worth the money and the raise, or you’re not,” she says. “It’s hard to change per­cep­tions so I didn’t bother. I made de­cent money and I had a low­stress job. Why change it?”

Re­becca Mor­ris says her trade­off came when she de­cided that she could be a work­ing mother who con­tin­ued to daz­zle ev­ery­one in the of­fice. “Not only do you have to do con­sis­tently great work, es­pe­cially if you’re a woman, you have to dress the part ev­ery day. You can’t com­plain when you’re tired and you can’t tell peo­ple when you’re stressed. It’s an un­fair stan­dard,” says Mor­ris, who left a “high-level job in mar­ket­ing with one of the best re­tail stores in the coun­try” to work at a small, mar­ket­ing firm in subur­ban Den­ver.

Belle says that Mor­ris fol­lowed a pat­tern that many con­sider ac­cept­able for a woman, but less than ideal for a man. “That’s start­ing to die down a lit­tle but it’s still a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion,” Belle says. “Par­ent­hood is an ac­cept­able trade­off for women, but not so much for men.”

Belle also says she thinks peo­ple judge women more harshly than men when it comes to stress. “They want to blame a woman’s kids if she’s stressed. They want to make that the is­sue,” she says.

Mor­ris agrees. “I’m as stressed-out as the next mom,” says the mother of three. “But I knew that I couldn’t keep that level up with my job and my fam­ily. And I had no de­sire to ‘have it all,’ what­ever that means, so I chose a job that had less drama and less stress. I don’t know if that’s a trade­off, but if it is, it’s worth it.”

Flat raises, cut bonuses, ex­pected, un­paid over­time — what causes em­ploy­ees to be­gin to take their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at work less se­ri­ously?

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