When you get employed and paid to work, they expect you to do just that. Work. Some even encourage you to go the extra mile as an inspiring tag line to do more than what is expected of you. Sometimes you get recognized immediately. You either have a promotion and a quick list of good references, but sometimes it's just a way of sizing you up and the rewards would arrive longer than expected. Naturally, you do your best to impress and make sure you are seen in a good light. Who wouldn't want to be promoted? Who wouldn't want to be praised? You might be the practical 21st century man with practical needs and natural desires to move up the ladder. But with the economy right now, there might be some people who do this, not expecting for a promotion, but to just to be able to keep their jobs.
Gone were the days of accommodating almost anything and anyone we can. If there's one season to be cutthroat and ruthless, it is now on a faltering economy. We have been a witness to waves of layoffs and closing of corporations. Unemployment in every country is on the rise. Businesses have started to be more competitive and stricter with finances. Organizations eliminate countless positions that could be done by one. Those who lost their jobs find it hard to squeeze themselves in a trimmed organization, while those who still have their jobs find it anxious to hold on to theirs.
People who were spared from layoffs know better than to appear complacent and relaxed. They should be able to project that they are doing the company a huge benefit by being spared from unemployment. They should appear indispensable and very proactive. They must appear busy and able to take on various responsibilities, not only one. Some take initiatives to keep them out of the radar, while others tend willingly absorb knowledge from various processes to be flexible enough to perform various services that organizations could take advantage of. You think you can never get that for pro-bono, but do you think it's not happening now?
In an outsourcing industry, this is highly magnified. In outsourcing, processes and departments are being shifted to other countries with low labor costs. Since global organizations need to cut down massive expenses, they have started to eliminate teams and people in their headquarters and transferred the work to cost efficient and equally capable professionals of "cheaper" countries that only reflect a minimum overhead cost compared to the usual paychecks of their headquarters manpower. It is a logical business move in every sense of the word, but I doubt if their previous employees and their current ones would highly appreciate. The ones who are left behind to explain and train people across the globe to do the job his laid off colleague once did, would experience a very painful transition. He will never forget that he may also be in danger and as much as possible he should either step up and make it "harder" for other people to match him or else he might also be replaced. Mistakes of off shore parties would be magnified to prove that no one could do the work better than the "original." Information sharing may be too inadequate for other teams to use and he would appear to be very proactive and solutions-oriented. In subtle threats such as this, no one should be too complacent. Systems might eliminate the tedious work. Offshore teams might prove to be cost efficient and effective. But now they know that doing a stress free job is a RED FLAG because it might give organizations reason to get rid of you. Usually in these cases employees must find every opportunity to work harder and smarter to avoid these threats. Now, it's not much of an issue in terms of jealousy and rewards. Now, it's all about work survival.
But there are cases when the work is already done and people have nothing left to do. This is where the art of appearing to work hard comes in. The once difficult, mundane and tedious tasks that you never thought of volunteering for, will be your best alternatives. As lousy the work may be, it's better than staring at the computer all day with the risk of getting caught by your supervisor. You don't want him to form a bad impression. Small things to pitiful things that make look one busy is a must to keep your job. Appear to be mind boggled with reports and produce something recommendable. Creativity is something that cannot be taught, so people should start developing that side of the brain. It's not always doing the day to day operations, it's thinking something of value and out of the box. The fight has never been this challenging. Make the organization feel that you highly deserve the position and every cent that they pay you for or else they would have a reason to just cut you out of the equation. Working hard is an understantement and now you know why for some people see it is a MUST.