Things I’m thankful for
Not everything is that bad in the world of work these days
Oct 18, 2016
By Brian Kreissl
My wife, daughter and I recently sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. One of the things we did before we ate was to have a toast and a little prayer and say a few words about things each of us was thankful for.
Thinking about it later, I began to realize this is something we should do more of as a society. Many of us have a tendency to complain about things and dwell on the negative side of life far too much without stopping to realize just how lucky we are.
Several things are responsible for this phenomenon including the media constantly reporting on bad news, friends’ social media posts, the tendency to look at the past with rose-coloured glasses and even the proliferation of home improvement and celebrity gossip shows on television. Constantly being bombarded with these types of thoughts and information give us the impression not only that we don’t measure up to the success of others, but also that things somehow aren’t as good as they used to be.
We forget that 60 years ago, most people lived in much smaller houses and didn’t feel the need to have four bathrooms, granite countertops, ceramic tiles, stainless steel appliances or marble backsplashes. They seldom had two cars and few people could afford to take foreign vacations to exotic locales.
But in spite of the fact that people are much more materialistic these days and seem to have forgotten how to live frugally and enjoy life’s simple pleasures, they also have this idea that society is on a continuous downward spiral, with crime constantly increasing and people becoming less civil and morally sound as time goes by (that simply isn’t true).
However, there’s a big difference between being happy and being satisfied. Just because we should be more grateful for what we have and less inclined to dwell on negative aspects of our lives doesn’t mean we can’t strive to do better.
Nevertheless, we should all take time to give thanks once in a while. This also applies to the workplace because most of us are actually very lucky compared with previous generations.
Things I am grateful for in the workplace
The following are some of the things I am grateful for in the workplace. While a few of these are specific to my own situation, many are things other people also enjoy or that we have on a societal level as well.
- Somewhat flexible hours. I’m not going to get fired because I’m five minutes late for work. Similarly, I can leave half-an-hour early if I have an appointment outside work in the early evening.
- The ability to complete work virtually anywhere using modern technology. Not being tied to a desk brings us tremendous freedom.
- Reasonable work hours. While I sometimes complain about my workload, the reality is I don’t work 80-hour work weeks and I do have considerable time to myself.
- Safe and healthy working conditions. Let’s face it, the world of work is much safer these days, even when it comes to particularly hazardous industries like mining, construction or manufacturing.
- Benefits and the social safety net. Most of us will be covered, at least to a certain extent, if we are unable to work for whatever reason. Similarly, we don’t pay for health care in this country, and employee benefits plans mean most of us don’t have to cover the entire cost of dental care, eye glasses or prescription drugs.
- Reasonable notice on termination. If we lose our jobs through no fault of their own, our employers are required to provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice to help tide us over until our next jobs.
- Decent remuneration. Most people (in the HR profession anyway) earn enough in salary and bonuses to support a middle class lifestyle.
- Colleagues who are decent, kind and caring. There are no bullies or mean people these days (at my work anyway).
- Work that is stimulating. I personally am thankful for work that is interesting, varied and challenging that makes use of my education, interests and previous experience.
- Legislation prohibiting child labour and discrimination based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Similarly, occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation, employment standards and labour relations legislation provide us with protections previous generations could only dream of.
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Brian Kreissl is the product development manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Canada's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions.