Is Desperation Required To Be An Employee?

by Mr. Cheap

It’s been over a month since Telly left a comment.  Knowing that she’s partial to posts about working 9-5 and employment issues, this is my humble attempt to get her to start visiting / commenting again.  If this doesn’t work, I may start posting pictures of my underwear like SquawkFox does.

In one of his books about real estate, John T. Reed advises that you should only hire resident managers who really need the income.  He recounts that he’s had people that are doing it as a side-job for a little extra cash, and without fail when a big annoyance came up they’d quit.  He found people who couldn’t make ends meet without the extra income from running his buildings were likely to stick around longer and put up with more.

I think he’s definitely on to something in terms of resident managers.  I was thinking about trying to find a small building in Waterloo that I could manage (up to 24 units maybe).  It seemed like a good way to stretch my graduate student funding further, and get more experience in an area that I hope to invest in personally in the future (multi-unit buildings).

He’s right though that if all my expenses were being covered by the university, it wouldn’t take too much of an ongoing issue before I said “forget this!” and moved back to a regular apartment.

Beyond the real estate consideration, I think this is probably true for most employment.  Lottery winners typically say they’re going to keep their jobs, but end up quitting.  There could be a number of explanations for this, but perhaps the next time they hit a “pull your hair out” moment at work, their winnings allow them to tell their employer what to do with the job.

For some time now, I’ve had enough in savings that I can live for a period of time without working.  I’ve often told friends and family that this brings me great comfort, as I’m not afraid of getting fired and am willing to push back on unreasonable employer demands.  It makes sense that this would lead to shorter employment terms than someone who isn’t in this position.

I read an article about a retired man who worked at Home Depot.  The company loved him (and other guys like him) as they worked for a reasonable amount of money, were personable and knowledgeable and had a good work ethic.  In the article he recounted telling his manager that he’d be away for a month the following summer.  When the manager told him he wasn’t sure if that would be possible, the older man respond “No, you don’t understand.  I’m telling you I won’t be here.  If you want me to keep working here once I get back, that’s fine.  If you don’t want me to, that’s ok too”.

I see all sort of signs with most companies that they count of employee desperation.  Perhaps encouraging your employees to dig themselves into debt with consumer purchases and always keep their lifestyle costs a little bit higher than their income is a good way to ensure a submissive, consistent workforce.

Have there been jobs you have kept or quit that your savings (or lack thereof) heavily influenced that decision?

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