Recession School: How to Keep Your Job

January 27 2010, 11:16 AM
While we've been bemoaning the recession and working through our feelings, John Heckers, a transition and executive coach in Cherry Creek, wrote a column titled "10 Ways to Make Sure You Keep Your Job." He doesn't pull any punches, telling us to log 60-hour workweeks and to quit feeling entitled to a work-life balance. Heckers is our tough-love expert for this edition of Recession School. I spoke with him about what inspired his article, if we really have to work that many hours, and how to do it all without burning out. Cheap Thrills: You mention at the beginning of your column that you might get hate mail because of it. It is, frankly, full of tough love. What inspired this article? Are you seeing these types of things happen in the workplace? John Heckers: In past times, we understood the necessity for hard work and associated hard work with success.  Many people now want to make high dollars but do not want to pay their dues. This lessening of work ethic is what inspired the article. CT: You say the 40-hour workweek is extinct, that 60 is the norm, and that we should work on weekends and other "off" times. Do you think people have turned soft toward working hard, or is it your opinion that we just need to buckle down during the current economy? JH: Both.  Americans love instant everything.  One of the things I see in today's upcoming workforce is the desire to skip the hard work and get right to the high salaries and prestigious jobs. Further, many younger-generation workers do not understand the necessity to learn and grow.  Many devalue experience. CT: Do you believe in burnout? Is there ever a time to relax? JH: Burnout is not usually the result of working too much.  It is usually the result of working at the wrong job.  Those who are working jobs that fulfill them as human beings rarely suffer burnout. As an example, I've worked 70-hour-plus weeks for years and, while I need a vacation every once in a while, am nowhere close to burnout.  But I love what I do, I love my partners, and love my clients. Even as much as I love what I do, I need a vacation a couple times a year.  I live enough below my means that I can do that.  But about three-fourths of the way through the vacation I start to be ready to get back to work. The problem is not in taking a break, taking weekends, taking personal time, etc.  It tends to wind up in the entitlement attitude that many people have.  Too many people see their jobs as just a hassle they have to put up with to have a life.  Those who are happiest see their jobs as an integral and fun part of their total lives.  The younger generations, especially, tend to see their jobs as dues they have to pay to have their almighty recreation.  If people would begin to see their jobs as part of a whole life, they wouldn't burn out much.