Advice for the Perkless Work Environment

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-06-04 Print this article Print

For those of you in IT that are watching fringe benefits and workplace perks go out the window like GM's stock price, some advice is here to help keep up your daily motivation.

Motivation for a job should probably not come from free pizza, chai lattes in the work kitchen or expensive gourmet team dinners after a project deadline. But, dang, it sure helps make the day-to-day a whole lot nicer knowing you can at least get that (when you aren't getting a raise and when you're having to take unpaid time off). Given the economic climate, most of these kind of perks have left the building, unless you work at Google or Facebook.

But not all of us can work at those companies.

So how do you keep your motivation up and your productivity high when all you're asking for is some General Tso's chicken once a month? A recent WSJ article attempts to answer that ... From the article:

To better cope with the more austere workplace, first recognize that the things you thought your job was required to provide may not be essential--especially right now--even if they're as important to you as a benefit like paid sick leave.

"This is kind of a pampered generation," Mr. Mael [an organizational consultant] says of the majority of the work force today. "People should not be interpreting that this is a backwards step in (their) career that we don't have free this and free that. Everyone in their homes is making the same decisions now. They're finding the things they thought were necessities aren't necessities."

However, if you're the only one whose perks have shrunk or your group has been specifically targeted for cutbacks, it may be difficult for you to cope. The entire office, even the boss, should be trying to keep the company solvent by giving up what they once thought was indispensable, psychologists say. If you ask, "Is this happening just to me? To my group?" and the answer is yes, it'll be very difficult for you to stay motivated.

Evidently, it depends on to what extent your group or team is being treated differently compared with other groups. I've always noticed that there are a few groups where the perks are always in place in corporations, and that's usually either the sales group or the development team. Two very key groups in driving revenue and products to the market.

Most of them are probably being told to close some deals and buckle down, work harder and get that product finished yesterday. Obviously, this depends on the culture you're part of, but if you notice other groups getting perks while yours have vanished, then that's a recipe for bad blood.

As talked about in a recent CIO Insight article, IT leaders can often behave in "shadow" mode--behaving in their most negative way as a reaction to being pushed and pulled by the business side rather than working as collaborative partners.

I think the same applies to work behavior when it comes to perks. Many of us have behaved in shadow mode when we start to watch perks dry up while other groups are out spending budgets.

Some of the key advice in the WSJ article is to not isolate yourself, stay connected to your workmates and look closely at what motivates you outside of those missed perks. Finding what gets you fired up in a positive way (that contributes to the goals of your job) and revisiting that frequently will make you closer to being part of the solution rather than someone who comes off as a moper or whiner.

Now, more than ever, is not the time to speak your mind about what you used to receive from work. |

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