Albert Einstein elegantly once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. This adage comes to mind when we see that yet again work requirements are being used as a bludgeon to combat Americans who live in poverty and who are in need of safety-net programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), HUD housing assistance, and if President Trump has his way, even Medicaid.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers has recommended work requirements for the most extensive welfare programs and the current administration has mandated that federal agencies alter their presumably lax welfare program standards. These moves are premised on the continuing notion that the poor are a drain on federal resources due to their laziness, recklessness, and lack of ambition. So here we go again, concluding that the poor are so, solely because of their own deficient behavior and must be made to work harder to receive assistance from this government.
It’s not that simple.
Is this work requirement approach fair in that recipients of aid (excluding children, elderly and disabled) should be made to show an attempt to earn their government supports, which allegedly incentives people to not be poor, or is this a kick to the poor and disenfranchised when they’re already down?
It’s worth examining a few of points about welfare work requirements:
1. According to the US Census Bureau the 2017 poverty rate was 12.3%, a 0.4% decrease from the year before. Since 2014 the poverty rate has fallen 2.5%. So if the current trend line is a declining poverty rate why is a harsh condition like work requirements for the poor necessary at this time?
2. This effort was last tried under Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich with their 1996 welfare reform legislation. We’ve had a couple decades to see how that has gone and studies like those from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and in the book Making Ends Meet (Edin and Lein) show that despite short term marginal improvements in employment they were not sustainable, mostly due to necessary and increased living expenses, absorbing any work generated financial gains.
3. Where are these jobs that the poor are supposed to get? If you’ve spent most of your life in poverty chances are quite low you can pick up a knowledge-economy job quickly. We’ve all heard how the traditional manual labor jobs are drying up, so what’s left? Lousy-waged part-time jobs with unpredictable and changeable hours is what’s left.
4. If the government feels the need to pick on somebody shouldn’t it be the employers of vast numbers of unskilled and low-skilled who pay their workers, including the working poor, insufficient wages that in turn need to be underwritten by the American tax payers?
Now one place where there could be political agreement is in the government providing subsidized high quality work training requirements targeted to actually helping the poor get the knowledge and skills needed for a globalized and digitized economy. Currently, training requirements can be in lieu of work requirements, but their effectiveness remains questionable.
The causes and cures for poverty are varied, complex, and far beyond the scope of this piece. But if we as a society are truly interested in ameliorating the condition of poverty (as we should be!) we need to be looking for demonstrably beneficial interventions that measurably make positive differences. Requiring the poor to get a low-end job that increases their child care and transportation costs just to prove they’re not milking the system or making them pay for a hand up from those of us with tax paying means is not a humane way to go about it.
As a professional in the construction, engineering, or environmental industry, you’ve worked hard. You’ve shown your dedication to the company. You know you deserve a promotion but asking for one can be a scary and intimidating experience. If you are considering approaching your boss about getting a promotion, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of getting it.
Wait for the Right Time
While your amount of time with the company should not be the only determining factor, it is important to realize it may play a part in whether your employer feels that you deserve a promotion. According to a recent article only 6.4 percent of employees get a promotion during their first year at a job. This number increases to 22 percent for those in their third year with a company. While this does not mean that you cannot ask for a promotion in your first or second year with a company, it is important for you to do a self-evaluation. Have you contributed enough to the company to deserve a promotion?
At times, it may be worth waiting another year or even just a few more months before attempting to get a promotion. It is also important to note that summer is viewed as the best time to ask for a promotion, which is great for many people who build houses or otherwise work outdoors. Summer is often their busiest season.
Approach the Issue Directly
It might be a bit intimidating to think of approaching your boss and asking for a promotion, but that is the best way to determine if your boss is willing to consider giving you a promotion. Depending on your relationship with your boss, this can be done in a formal setting, where you request a meeting or it can be done in a casual setting where you mention that you feel that you deserve a promotion.
After you have mentioned the promotion, it is important to follow up. Send your boss an email. Mention it again a week or so later. Bring it into conversations when you can. Even if there is not currently a position available, make your desires clear. While you should not be annoying, it is important to be persistent. You may not get the promotion right away, but if you don’t give up, you are more likely to eventually be considered for a promotion.
Have the Why Ready
When asking for a promotion, it is important to have facts, statistics, or other information to justify asking for one. To prepare to ask for a promotion, do things that show that you deserve it. This may include taking on larger projects, taking on more responsibility, or otherwise contributing to the company on a higher scale. Just be careful not to overstep your responsibilities or appear too eager for the promotion. Becoming a brown-noser or trying to take over your supervisor’s responsibilities are two of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to get a promotion. Instead, do your job to the best of your ability, and be willing to show why you are the best choice for the promotion.
Work is big deal, it is very serious for most people. As important as work is many people are unhappy at work. Entrepreneurship or as they call it “side hustle” is a better yet not seemingly easily attainable solution for most people.
I can count 200 reasons why happiness at work is important but for now let me give you just three reasons
Reason (I) you spend most of your life at work. Most people are at work for at least 10 hours a week – for many that might mean getting up at 6 am, getting ready for work, leaving home at 7am and getting stuck in traffic before you get to work at 8am.
So, if you spend 8 hours at work or 9 hours you probably spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your family. Just think about it, 8 hours every day with your supervisor every single day of the week translates to 40 hours a week with your supervisor and co-workers as opposed to the 16 hours you spend with family on weekends
Reason (II) Work brings in the cash, who said money was not important? Money is very important… we can’t easily live without it. We need to cloth ourselves, we need food, we need shelter, we need or even want a good holiday every once in a while. More money is needed if you have children and a family to take care of. Money is so important the absence of it can raise havoc to our happiness and wellbeing. I am not saying we should worship money but I am saying that it is important
Reason (III) Work is important for your happiness, if you are not happy at work and constantly have work problems it is easy for those problems to creep into other areas in your life including your relationship with your family, husband or wife and everything else.
So, work is a big deal!!
You might be asking yourself, where am I going with this?
Research shows that as important as work is, most people are not happy at work. According to Forbes, 70% of people in the workplace are disengaged.
Why are people sometimes not happy at work? In general, there are three common work problems that most people have, maybe you are facing one of them, either (I) you don’t like the work (II) you don’t like the boss or people that you work with or (III) you are not growing or are not recognised enough (not enough pay, no promotion etc.).
I have learnt in my life from working and coaching many people that most work problems can get solved by just doing three things right. Just three things.
(I) Being strong
Back in the days I used to work for a company where there was a staff kitchen cleaner. Most staff members would arrive at work in the morning and go on with their routine, make a cup of tea, eat some breakfast cereals… make another cup of tea later on and so on.
Not many staff members ever said thank you for the great job that the kitchen lady did. But whenever she happened to take time off or was off sick everybody moaned about how dirty the kitchen looked as they couldn’t find clean cups and things got scattered all over the place. So the work that the helper in the kitchen was very important but nobody ever noticed until she was not there. How many people are like that in our lives that we take for granted. Your work is important trust me just know that even if you feel unappreciated.
Some of us live in complexes, we have security control at the gates, and they open the gate each day with us going on in with our business and ensure that we are protected. We may not always say thank you for their effort but when the gate is not opened get upset about the situation.
I am trying to remind you that your work is important, every work is important, from the floor cleaner right up to the CEO. So in whatever it is that you do understand that your work is important because that is fundamental for you taking an interest in it which will allow you to be strong about the circumstance that you face and give you better ability to remain strong and positive.
(II) Knowing more
Secondly, know more about the business that you work for. Even if you are a floor worker at Pick n Pay or Shoprite or Woolworths or furniture shop it would help to know what your company does, how it makes money and what is important to the business. Can you imagine a floor worker at Pick N Pay that knows all the company board members names, how much profit the company made, how many stores it has in South Africa. Do you think this person can remain a floor worker for long with that much knowledge and awareness? I would live you to answer that question.
Knowing more about the business you are involved in helps you become relevant and become useful in ways that you can’t even imagine. Before you know it you would become a valuable asset to your organisation and progress better in your company. What is excellent about knowing more is that even if you do not grow within your company you would always impress looking for work elsewhere because you will go to interviews informed and with the right level of thinking and self-confidence.
It is easy when you are not happy at work to get disengaged get passive. The problem with that is that nothing changes for you from your work environment because you are doing nothing. Instead of doing nothing I would like to advise you to know more. Whatever you do as a job, whatever business you are involved in, just know more about it. Knowing more leads to powerful change that is why some people who have worked for security companies or restaurants started their own firms doing the same thing. When you know more suddenly the boss has no unreasonable power over you. You get better positioned to change things, to reason and to influence things.
(II) Be initiative
Knowing more does not help if you do not take initiative and do more. What do I mean by doing more? I mean understand the needs of the business people around you, you supervisor, your company and proactively work hard towards meeting them. Do not just go about your daily routine, try to understand what your boss and your company values. Ask questions to your boss, what are the two important things that I can help you with right now? Then go ahead and help with that, then ask after you do whatever it is that is required, “is there anything more that I can do to help?” Being of service is important and it will help you become valuable. You will outperform many other people on your job. Your value will increase and your bank account will show that.
Being initiative is not just about working your job. When you implement the second advice that I gave i.e. knowing more about your business, being initiative can move you to a place where you are not just a restaurant worker and become a restaurant owner. You can get to a place where you are not jus a security worker but a security company owner.