All too often, there are two sides to the employment equation – employers, and employees. There will always be a tussle weighing remuneration against contribution, and perception versus reality.

After I served my national service in the army, I was suddenly in the busy highway of looking for employment in the worst economic recession we faced. It was not easy, especially having had doors slammed in my face for numerous job interviews day and night, with hundreds of application letters sent out, often with no results.

Gratefully, I landed in a laboratory job working on the ground up. It was probably around US$300/month, possibly way below livable wages, but I was tremendously happy I had a job.
As a young career man, I was very motivated and hardworking, and put in extra effort because I did not have college credentials then. I could very confidently and proudly say that I deserved every cent of my wages, and more. My contributions to each of those jobs were way above the performance indicators my bosses set, and surpassed many of them. I did not ask for more wages than I deserved, and I trusted my bosses to do what they could, when they could. Most of those bosses I worked for were people I respected and even admired, and they gave me raises when the time was right, and when they could. I appreciated all that they have done for me, not just wages, but the learning and work experiences I gained.

Increasingly, perhaps due to the artificially inflated cost of living, some people are becoming more demanding. Some employees, including fresh graduates with no proven field experience, have begun to expect unrealistic wages, and when employed, unrealistic promotions and raises. One of the common complaints I have heard is, “My expenses are so high, and my boss is paying me peanuts!”

Some young people have no ears to hear from their employers’ perspectives – that perhaps the young ones have much to learn, little to show for, and lots more character shaping to do. These would fall on deaf ears. It is easy to go online, on forums or social media channels, or even sit in a cafe in the city, to hear the droning echoes of the same boring and meaningless complaints of some of these employees. The time they spend on complaining to each other could have been used to contribute back to their work with real results to show for, and to improve themselves attending courses or self-paced learning.

A person’s expenses is very much his own. Expenses have zero bearing on what a person deserves to be paid. How much a person deserves to be paid depends on what the person brings to the table to the organization he serves. A business is a complex entity with many expenses, and it would be naive to imagine that a business will be sustainable if every employee only put in an equitable amount of work, especially work that brings no returns on investments or expanded revenue. It takes an employee to attempt to run his own business to find out just how complex, how much of a headache, how stressful, and how much harder he has to work, when doing his own business. I know, I have been there and done that.

Complaints are at best the evidence of a lack of fortitude and enthusiasm for life, and at worst, a reflection of an utterly defeated shadow of a human being. We choose what we want to achieve in our lives. We choose what we deserve, when the time and situations are ripe. Time is a fixed commodity for each of us. We make the best of what is fixed for us. Some of us have more challenges to surmount, and it is our journeys to conquer. May you have a blessed journey of strength and perseverance.