Re: Kyle Carruthers’ Feb. 3 column, “In battle for talent, it’s hard for businesses to compete with Yukon government’s perks.”
I have heard this argument many times before. I have worked for the Yukon government, but no longer. It is a tough gig.
Daniel Pink, an author and motivational speaker/lecturer (see his TED Talks) defines motivation as autonomy, mastery and purpose. When working for the Yukon government I found that autonomy was the first to be taken away from me. Everything had to be decided at higher levels and had to be signed and countersigned in blood before decisions could be made. What I was trained for, what I was hired for, was taken from me.
The second to go was mastery. What Pink refers to here is that you need to be challenged each day in your work in order to get better. With my athletes in cross-country skiing and biathlon I always told them, “If you are not falling (read: failing) you are not trying hard enough.” They improved each day. Mastery was taken from me because each day was like the one before it, and everything became mundane. There was no way I could improve or find meaning in my work by continued employment with the Yukon government.
The third to go was purpose. I discovered one day that if I hadn’t shown up for work I don’t think anyone would miss me and nothing would stall. No one would notice. Lack of purpose makes us all automatons.
I am not the only one who could not find meaning and fulfilment under the Yukon government’s tent despite all of the money and benefits. (I actually have made much more money working in the private sector – in fact, I took a cut in pay in order to work for the mother ship.) For nine years and 328 days I was employed by the government, and I couldn’t take a day more.
If you think a government gig is easy, let me tell you it is tough slogging into work to a job that has no future, working for bottom-end management that has no idea how to manage people.
I am no longer a union member, but I know and have seen companies and governments sign contracts that they could not live up to, then complain about the unions. That is irresponsible. It is nothing but bad management looking for a scapegoat.
One point about wages. Government is the one place where the disparity between the highest and the lowest paid is at least reasonable.
I take my hat off to those who are employed by Yukon government. They have an extremely demanding boss: us. Many of them work hard under difficult conditions with great stress. I know many and I couldn’t take it. They are tougher than I am and I suspect, Mr. Carruthers, you too.