As another new year approaches, I can’t help but reflect on life.
This has been a tough few years with many friends, relatives and acquaintances succumbing to ill health and dreaded diseases like cancer and HIV.
Some of them are recovering from strokes and others have had to adjust their lifestyles after heart attacks gave them major wake-up calls.
Bad news of terrible diseases striking young people down does appear to be increasing in its frequency and intensity.
Clearly we need to take stock of our lifestyles, because we are doing something very wrong.
Work stress, together with trying to keep head above inflationary waters and terrible nutrition, are taking its toll on our health.
To add insult to ill health, our bosses seem to care more about business than about the people making the business a success.
Someone I know advised recently that she was forced to quit the job that she was quite excellent at because a loved one, who was diagnosed with cancer, needed her to care for them.
It got me thinking about how we spend our good years satisfying the bank accounts of capitalists, who have no qualms about kicking us to the curb when the going gets tough in later years.
It’s not the first such story I’m aware of either.
Dedicated and committed employees are forced to take time off work to care for a loved one.
And when it gets worse, and the sick leave is exhausted, they are forced to either carry on working through the emotional distress, or they are forced to leave.
It just reinforces to me how totally dispensable we are as employees, no matter how valuable, capable and loyal we once were.
You can neglect your family to work during the holidays; take work home to make the boss happy; be on 24-hour call; work yourself into a stupor and contri- bute significantly to your company’s success over many years; but generally speaking, they will put in very little effort to help you overcome a family catastrophe, when the time comes.
No extra time off, nothing extra in your bank account to pay for a funeral or medical bills.
Don’t get me wrong; I get that companies have other employees to consider and don’t want to be seen as welfare organisations.
But I also know how it would impact an employee if the company they invested so much energy and love into, was able to show some tangible compassion and empathy in their time of desperate need; not just a cursory bunch of flowers and a compulsory group email, but something that has meaningful impact.
In the case I mention above, wouldn’t it have been lovely if the company in question could’ve allowed her to take a sabbatical for six months to care for her loved one, without having to worry about the money; without having to give any thought to a job afterwards.
That, in my opinion, would’ve made for an eternally grateful employee, who would’ve in all likelihood thrown herself even more into her job, never mind the wonderful word-of-mouth PR it would’ve generated for the company.
Capitalism is a cold-hearted system that encourages and rewards greed, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else.
And capitalists would rather own the latest sports car than to show some compassion.
Consider the time you rob from your loved ones to help them acquire those material things.