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Is that all there is? The changing world of work.

Is this all there is? Case Studies

There was a profound shift in our work life in WA in 2021. Relationships with our family and colleagues have reframed how we work.

Career Teachers Lead the Change

Towards the end of 2021 I became aware that 11 outstanding, knowledgeable, long term career educators were resigning. The loss of their intellectual capital and tacit knowledge will include the collapse of a rich repository of networks that have supported kids to overcome barriers and find their pathway to where they belong as they leave school.

The overwhelming reason for leaving that I heard, was that their knowledge, experience and expertise was not being valued.

They decided to walk.

They will take their knowledge, wisdom and networks with them.

Tradies Make the Change

I have a relative who has been a leading painting and decorator in Western Australia. The challenge of chasing payments has lead to him winding up his business and taking a job as an employee driving trucks. His boss loves having an employee who understands the complexities of running a business. He is well paid and valued.

I heard of a 38 year old guy who had his own ceiling fixing business. His body was already starting to struggle with the physical challenges of his work. He is now working as a personal care assistant in a regional hospital. He loves his regular pay, sick leave and long service leave entitlements.

Health Care Workers

Money is having a variable influence in career decisions.

I heard of a nurse in the Gascoyne who was burnt out from the pressure of working at a regional hospital. She is driving a truck on a mine site where she is part of a team and earning more.

My Mum has aged care workers who come each day from Silver Chain. One of them told me she left nursing to do aged care work as it is less stressful and she is appreciated more in this line of work. She is earning less than she did as a nurse.

I was at a birthday party recently where a former teacher told me he had moved to work in National Disability Services. He said he had some discretion about who his clients are and he gets to work with people who he gets along with and who appreciated his efforts. He is earning less than he did as a teacher.

What is the takeaway? 

As a feminist in the 80’s I knew that the arrival of a baby in a home was expected to have no impact on the lives of fathers who were in the workforce.  Whereas, changes in the workplace would be made with no consideration of the family responsibilities of workers.

“Work – Life Balance” was chanted in an effort to get people to value their “Life” as much as they did their “Work” as if these were two different things.

The pendulum is swinging back to a more holistic approach. We have seen moves to address some shocking workplace practices, particularly in horticulture. Sexual harassment is being addressed to make mine sites safe for women. Employers asking “How was your weekend” has become a game changing consideration when measuring quality of work environments, particularly for young people.

My Ideal

My ideal workplace would be a place where we belong to a community who value our contribution.  The arrival of a baby would be celebrated and supported. Demarcation between home and work would become blurred with family being valued by the workplace.

My hope for 2022 is that workplaces continue to be reframed to become places where people are supported to grow into who they can be.

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