Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I’ve written in the past that your employment is a contract between yourself and your employer.  In a white collar, highly skilled job, you will find yourself working a 40 hour work week that follows an obsolete labor model.

This is fundamental to the nature of labor.  What you are doing when you are getting hired is negotiating the only asset you have, your time, in exchange for money.  The job you are doing is not your job but the company’s job which has been assigned to you in exchange for your time.

For everyone in the labor market, time is currency.

The trouble is, skilled white collar labor is not exactly something that you can measure in both time and money.  This is especially true when it comes to engineering type labor where the tangible benefits of their products cannot be measured until long after a project has completed.

In other types of labor, mostly blue collar, measuring an employee’s time against the task they perform.  If you spend 8 hours on an assembly line, behind a cash register, or taking support calls, there is a tangible measurement your labor.  You worked 8 hours and therefore deserve 8 hours worth of compensation.

But for the salaried, skilled employee, the benefits are less tangible.  What is worse is that sometimes an employee will imagine that working more, essentially giving away his or her time for free, will allow them to advance in their career path.  This is not always the case and can sometimes even backfire.

What you need to understand is that if your employer is measuring your labor value by time, as nearly all of them do, a salaried worker need only work the time that is expected, usually 40 hours a week.  Beyond that, you are giving your time away to your employer for free.

While I do advocate that people be hard-working, as idle hands and thoughts are the devil’s playthings as evidenced by many of the YouTube idiots, I do also advocate that you be a smart worker and get paid for your time.

Because time is really the only asset you have to barter with.  Top-level executives usually understand this and know this, but many middle and bottom-level employees do not.

Don’t be an Alice.  It isn’t rewarded.

Don’t be a Wally.  It leads to emptiness.

Be a Dilbert.  A worker who knows his value and works up to that value.

And being brutally honest is always a plus too.