Good Work vs Crap Work: The Quest to Find One and Avoid the Other

by | May 31, 2021 | Job satisfaction, Job seeking

I’m just completed the very informative and interesting, but slightly depressing read of the Institute for the Future of Work’s report on the spread of ‘Amazonian’ work practices –The Amazonian Era: How algorithmic systems are eroding good work | Institute for the Future of Work report funded by Trust for London. Their survey found that 55% of workers felt less valued by their employers after recent changes to work practices, while 49% felt less fulfilled. The report calls for a ‘human-centered approach to technology and a renewed focus on making work better’

In case you wondered, Amazonian is a corporate rather than geographical reference-with that well-known online retailer held up as a symbol of the draconian, soul-sucking work environments which are most likely to make for a crap experience of work, all being made worse by the dehumanizing ways in which algorithms are being used to plan work, and a crap experience of work can literally make you ill in multiple ways, as this Huffington Post article attests. This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Hate Your Job

I do acknowledge that in the case of work, one person’s ‘good’ may be another’s ‘crap’ and vice versa (e.g. some people thrive on working to targets, others hate it; some people love dealing full on with members of the public, others would rather stick pins in their eyes, and so on and so on) and also that good jobs can have crap elements, and vice versa. We’re always at some point on a continuum.

Even so, maybe there are some baseline factors that are more likely to make work good, the absence of which will be likely to make work crap. I’ll have a go at identifying these here;

When you’re In good work;

  1. you are decently rewarded for your work
  2. you feel respected and valued
  3. you have some say in how you do your job
  4. you are not subject to petty and dehumanising rules
  5. you get the chance to use your skills, knowledge, and experience, and to gain more of each
  6. you can see how your work is making a contribution to something/making something better

In crap work, well, just take the list above and think of the opposites!
I once read that ‘being in a crap job is not your fault, staying in one is.’ I’m not sure I would point the finger at someone staying in a crap job and I appreciate that walking out of one is easier said than done in current times. Many feel they have no choice, or the non-choice of crap job vs no job. But if you find you’re in a crap job right now, I’d encourage you to set an intention to leave, or at the very least explore the possibility of leaving for the sake of your sanity, your physical health and the people who care about you.

Here are some of five things you can do to make that happen.

  1. Make a list of your skills, experience, knowledge, and successes.
    One of the things crap work scenarios can do is chip away at your confidence and make you focus on your weaknesses, not your strengths, so taking some time to remember all the positive things you can bring to a role is well-worth doing. If you get stuck you can get family, friends and ex-colleagues to jog your memory!
  2. Update or revamp your CV making sure it does justice to the things you’ve listed in 1 above
  3. Do some research into the job market, and identify some possible target jobs
    There is tons of information out there on the labour market. Some starting points for online research are;
    • LMI for all’s Careerometer widget which offers current salary details and tracks likely growth in particular job roles up until 2024. Careerometer – LMI For All
    Glassdoor first hand perspectives on what it’s like to work for a whole range of companies, from people who’ve worked for them
    Graduate Prospects an extensive range of job profiles for a range of graduate jobs
    • Explore Careers Job Profiles from the National Careers Service Explore careers | National Careers Service
  4. Draw up a Leaving Timeline: set an ideal date for making your escape, and put steps in place towards that date, which can serve as a motivational ‘light at the end of the tunnel’
  5. Discuss your ideas with a qualified and experienced careers professional who can guide and support help you with steps 1 and 3 above.

You can contact me for a free 20-minute Discovery Session- to find out about my Career Consultation sessions and other services, see this link for further details Contact Paul Gaunt, Careers Advisor

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