If you want to get on you should still work hard – right?

Frank McKenna suggests that work/life balance expectations have become somewhat skewered – and that the entitlement demanded by some in the workplace is neither desirable nor sustainable.

Frank McKenna

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When I decided to set up my own business nearly twenty years ago a man I greatly admired and respected, Len Collinson, told me to create a business that allowed me to do something I loved and really enjoyed.

I followed his advice. Downtown in Business allows me to do many of the things I like to do – politics, corporate events, networking, meeting some great people, working with incredible companies and entrepreneurs, supporting businesses, writing, and, hopefully, influencing policies and outlook in the places we operate in. Why, I was even lucky enough to meet my wife at an event.

I sign up to the doctrine ‘work hard, play hard’, and I would always encourage friends and colleagues that if they are in a job that they don’t like to move on.

However, in recent times, people’s expectations of work seem to have become a bit daft. Everyone buys in to the ‘play hard’ element of a job, but the ‘work hard’ – not so much.

As much as I love my job, I still have to do things I don’t like doing, deal with challenging issues, work twelve plus hour days from time-to-time, and get pissed off occasionally. That is the world of work. That’s life.

But too many people now are increasingly demanding for panacea in the workplace.

So, if they think they should be able to work from home, the boss must let them. If they want a pay increase, then the boss should give it to them. If they are pulled up for under-performing, they sulk and start looking for alternative employment. If their employer asks them to work late to complete a project, they say they are ‘stressed’.

This attitude of entitlement has permeated into all aspects of our lives. We want to save the planet, so we’ll import Russian energy, rather than explore independent fuel production through nuclear power and fracking. We want the government to protect us from getting sick, so we urge for extended furlough schemes, free COVID testing, and more generous sick pay. We want our employer to provide state-of-the-art office conditions – but we want to choose when we grace the office with our presence.

I’m sorry folks, but this way of life is not sustainable. I’m all in favour, indeed a long-time advocate of, good working conditions, decent pay, openness and transparency between management and workforce, support for those genuinely struggling with physical or mental health issues and trying to find ways to save the planet. And, I have a track-record of doing all of these things, not just talking about them.

A dangerous, unrealistic culture has crept into our psyche. Instant gratification without having to do much for it is the new mindset. Well, COVID or no COVID, at some point soon, we’ll have to give our heads a wobble and get back to reality. The old saying ‘life is for living’ maybe true. But truer still ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’.

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