I think it’s safe to say that most of us have had a job that was mostly crappy, but you stayed for one or two small reasons that mattered more to you than others. Maybe it’s because you like the crew, maybe it’s because it works well with your otherwise busy schedule. And though on the more difficult days it’s easy to think “I should find something else”, you find yourself wondering whether or not you’ll be able to find something that has the same benefits you’ve grown accustomed to, or perhaps even dependent on, so you just accept your fate and stay where you are. The devil you know vs the devil you don’t.
I know this is sort of a negative way to start off, but I wanted to properly illustrate how big of a deal little benefits can be.
So let’s start with one of the more generic benefits, vacation time. Most places, at least here in the US, start with 1-2 weeks per year of paid vacation time. The longer you’re with the company, the more vacation time you get per year. And once you’ve gotten to the point that you’re getting close to a full month of vacation time every year, you’re pretty hard-pressed to start over. Sure, this new job you found may pay a little more, but you could easily end up going back to only two weeks of vacation, and that would just suck. Is the new job’s salary going to be worth it? What about health benefits? And more importantly to the point, I’m trying to make here: What About Freedom?
Every good experiment needs a control, a baseline to compare results to. For this, I’ll be using my first job in the industry. In short, I hated it. The pay was a sizable bump from what I was doing before, and I was finally getting my foot in the door of an entirely new career path. I was more than excited to get started, but that changed once I got started. I worked under a microscope. I’m not going to go too deep into the details, but it was an extremely unpleasant work environment. Grateful as I was for the opportunity, I constantly found myself thinking I made a huge mistake. I wasn’t too far away from getting a pay raise at my old job before I left, I liked my bosses, they gave me room to be creative when it came to finding new ways to get more customers in the doors, you get the idea.
While there aren’t a lot of developers in the college town that is Greenville, NC, there also aren’t a lot of developer jobs either. I say that so no one reading this gets the idea that as a developer, I get my pick of the litter. I promise you, I don’t. I knew about Red Shark Digital, and I wanted to be a part of it. I can’t tell you how many times I applied, even if it wasn’t a developer job. Eventually, it worked out. And after almost three years here, I can assure you that I’m in no hurry to leave. I make good money (far and away the most I’ve ever made out of all my jobs), awesome benefits, and good vacation time.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. But what about Google? Doesn’t every developer want to work for Google? They have free benefits, unlimited vacation time, insane benefits for the family, the list goes on.
Short Answer: No
Long Answer: Why the #$@& would I?
Sure, a Web Design / Digital Marketing Agency in a town the size of Greenville, NC isn’t going to have unlimited vacation time. But do I really need it? I’d argue no. First off, it’s clearly not truly unlimited. If you abuse a privilege, you probably won’t last long. In fact, several studies show that people with unlimited vacation end up taking less than those with a hard cap. But that’s not the point here. I have a lot of freedom at this job. The freedom to choose how I work.
If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I won’t shut up about Linux. And being able to work on your operating system of choice is surprisingly rare. Having to work on another operating system would honestly be like being told I had to wear dress shoes for a hiking job. But that’s not the only choice I’m granted here. Ultimately, what matters is results. It doesn’t matter what software I use, what platform I build with, what operating system I use, which desk I sit at. All that matters is that I’m able to produce quality work for the company. I’ve been granted the freedom to really mold this job and make it my own. I’ve worked from home on a number of occasions without being docked a personal day, all because the big cheese understands that what matters is work getting done.
This is really what I’m trying to say here. Having freedom is a big deal. Where a single mom with two kids in school may prioritize a flexible schedule, I find freedom in the workplace to be the number one commodity. When you can make your job what you want it to be, why the hell would you ever want to leave?
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