By Ryan Healy – Safe for me is a cushy, decent job that pays well. Safe is making a steady paycheck that will cover my student loans, rent and living expenses with a small amount left over to put in the bank. Safe is having the spending money to eat out on Tuesday, go to happy hour on Thursday and buy a couple of rounds at the bar on Saturday.
Safe sounds really fun. So why do I find it so boring?
I have an intense desire to know what its like to scrounge for a month’s rent. I want to know what it’s like to say I can’t afford to eat out tonight, and really mean it. I truly do believe that living like this builds character, and everyone should probably experience it at some point.
But more importantly, I want to know that every action I take can result in my success or my failure. A safe job does not provide this dynamic. If you make a great presentation to a group of stakeholders for your company, you may receive a pat on the back and your boss might consider you for promotion. If you bomb the presentation, chances are you will still receive your paycheck every other Friday.
It sounds a hell of a lot more exciting to make a great sales pitch to a group of investors and convince them to fund your business for the next six months. Or you could bomb the pitch and be forced to get a part time bartending job just to pay rent. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.
Many people my age feel the same way. They think safe is boring and they want to take a risk. The problem is, safe is comfortable and risk is scary. Not many people can handle dropping everything and starting a business with no immediate source of income. Many people don’t even want to run a business, but they still want some excitement from their jobs.
So I think there can be a compromise. Most young, single, ambitious people would probably do a little gambling with their salaries if the opportunity arose. It would be a lot of fun and incredibly motivating to wager $10,000 of my salary on whether or not I can bring the company an extra $50,000 in revenue through my actions. Systems would have to be set up to measure this sort of thing, but the increase in output could definitely cover the costs. Not to mention the massive savings from increased employee retention rates.
Maybe this option is a little too out there for most employers, but the bottom line is a safe, steady, paycheck leads to boredom for entry-level workers. Boredom leads to job hopping or uninspired work, both of which affect a company’s bottom line. If companies can figure out how to make a paycheck a little more interesting, and the job a little less “safe,” they will undoubtedly gain some more inspired, productive employees.
Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution