Deconstructing the “Minimum Wage, Minimum Effort” Mantra

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before. It’s been turned into memes and it’s a popular statement among young people who work in jobs that don’t require much or any experience.

I mean, of course! Why would we be required to put in more effort for the legally least amount of compensation? Add to the notion that career advancement opportunities and substantial raises are nothing but empty promises because no matter how hard we work or how well we do our jobs we don’t receive any of it. And on top of all that, it’s likely that we don’t even enjoy our jobs, so there is virtually no motivational ground for us to put in 110% every day. It just doesn’t add up!

You know, in 1945, the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen contained around 65,000 prisoners. That’s no mere housing complex; that’s an actual city. It was so large, in fact, that the main camp was subdivided into about 30 sub-camps that utilized forced labor to produce German armaments.

One of the sub-camps was a shoe production facility called “Schuhläuferkommando” which means something like “the shoe walking unit.” The malnourished, disease-ridden prisoners were made to walk in circles for about 40 kilometers each day in new shoes on a track consisting of different surfaces such as gravel, sand, and broken stones.

The SS officers didn’t think this was malevolent enough, so they forced the workers to wear shoes that were two sizes too small while carrying sacks of sand weighing 20 kilograms.

The reason this story is important is that the guards exploited the need for humans to engage in useful activities and rendered it completely meaningless. It was a successful attempt to ruin the human experience to the degree that it’s almost hard to truly comprehend.

If hell exists, that’s it.

Now that we’ve established the nature of hell, let’s take a look at a more optimistic scenario.

If you happen to occupy a position in the minimum wage category, you have successfully set yourself apart from the jobless by acquiring a role in the oversaturated working class, which is a remarkable accomplishment in itself.

Great, but my job is meaningless and boring.”

Even if your job is “meaningless,” which it isn’t because you’re not a prisoner in a concentration camp, you can at least attempt to be the most competent force within your group of colleagues by doing your job exceedingly well. Mainly because there is an abundance of widespread incompetence across various disciplines, especially in the UK for some reason, so why not tackle that problem? You’re receiving money for it after all.

Not enough, though.”

Then ask for a raise. What an idea, right? Tell your employer three solid reasons why you deserve a raise and two solid reasons why it would be worse for the company if you didn’t receive a raise. Construct a compelling argument and present it confidently instead of conducting passive-aggressive strikes or waiting for the manager to notice your exceeding efforts because they simply won’t.

Pro tip from a former manager: Managers tend to focus more on negative things because problems need to be solved immediately. The concomitant is that they ignore most positive contributions of their employees’ continual maintenance and improvement of the company.

And what if I don’t get a raise?

Another pro tip: If you ask for a raise and your reasons are valid but you’re denied, ask to speak with your manager’s boss or consult your HR department. It’s a lot more expensive to hire new personnel than to reward existing staff for their work, and any manager worth his or her salt knows this. But make sure your argument is compelling and ideally backed by numbers because that’s what people higher up the business hierarchy care about.

What if I can’t come up with reasons to get a raise for my job?

Third pro tip: If you can’t think of any financially beneficial reasons for the company to give you a raise, create them! For what else did we go to university other than to improve our ability to think, speak, write, and create solutions? Unless the universities didn’t actually teach us those things, which is a reality we should seriously consider.

As a collective unit subdivided into individuals, us young people should aim to harness our talents and abilities and make ourselves as useful as possible in return for an appropriate reward based on the nature of our work because that’s part of where the meaning of life is. By doing so, we actively promote our generation’s willingness to make the world a slightly better place by making ourselves slightly better individuals and thus a slightly better collective unit.

To state that minimal wage necessitates minimal effort is an incredibly shallow analysis of what it means to be a useful member of a functioning society because that’s what we currently have in comparison to 80 years ago, and we damn well do not want a resurgence of hell – especially not in the time of snowflakes.



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