More than half of those said to be taking it easy at work. | Emilio Naranjo - mlp - EFE - EFE

It seems that a third of workers are ‘coasting’ through their jobs, making little effort and believing they have nothing to aim for, according to a recent report. It says that in the UK there were 10 million employees trying to avoid hard work at a time when the country is facing all manner of challenges and cock-ups. More than half of those said to be taking it easy at work said their jobs meant little to them and only 25% were happy in their positions, according to a poll commissioned by a pensions consultancy.

This lead to employment experts calling on companies to improve the work rate of their employees by trying to make their workers happier. Happier, happier! Whatever can they mean by that? I’m not sure about this happy workforce malarkey at all. Yes, it is good if you enjoy your job and working with agreeable colleagues, but I suspect neither is a deal breaker in the scheme of things, as a mortgage or rent has to be paid whether either is the case. As in the situation with most people, I have worked in jobs where I have really liked my colleagues and been less enamoured with the my actual job - and vice versa.

Also, I have hit the jackpot more than once in my working life whereupon both these allusive boxes have been ticked. Nevertheless, I am very suspicious of the term “coasting” - what does it actually mean? Well, in this context - employment consultant Laura Matthews, says this - “Coasters are not lazy or unambitious people, but often those lacking purpose or confidence in they ability to add value.” What does “add value” mean I wonder - is it a failure to kiss a bosses backside at an appropriate moment, or as I suspect, does it mean that you should work harder and for longer hours so as to prove that your are not merely coasting or i.e. doing exactly what you are being paid to do?

When years ago I entered the company where I had just fluked a job, a car - and a proper title, the first person to approach me was an agitated guy, who made it his business to inform me that he had worked for the company since leaving school and he wasn’t about to stand aside for a young whipper-snapper. I suspect that he believed that I would be bringing “added value” to my job as his deputy and so he wasn’t at all excited by my recruitment. But even as a twenty-something no-nothing - there would be no added value from me.

I just got on-with-it - eventually, he left and I got his job - so there was nothing to worry about was there! I wonder if so called added value is to do with the fact that some people really do ‘live’ their jobs while others just ‘do’ their jobs? The former of these two employment mindsets, is increasingly what is expected of modern employees in certain industries and businesses.

Naturally enough, this doesn’t apply to all employees - but, I am told that for many employees a 8 hour working day within a five day week is a modern fantasy. It could be that our old-friend added-value enables employers to contact employees 24/7 and any sign of resentment or ‘kick-back’ is met with discreet, yet barbed comments about commitment and other so called ‘flag’ words.

Young members of my extended family in the UK workforce also tell me that in many private sector businesses there is not a banded salary structure, so that employees can see and understand where they are in the corporate set up and what they are earning in comparison to colleagues. Perhaps this is a reaction to the restricted and restrictive over-structured salary and working hours and conditions of public sector employees.

This I get - but any employee, should not feel under pressure for his job, if he/she does not feel the need to be on almost 24hour call via their various devices - surely? I was talking to a young guy the other day - he’s 41 years of age - so he isn’t that young - but what he told me was both interesting and alarming.

He told me that since the onset of Covid-19 working from home has become somewhat of a ‘norm’ for him and millions of others. However, my young mate tells me that if he works from ‘home’ he’ll be expected to put in at least a 10 hour shift. No, he doesn’t ‘clock in - or out’ but he will get a constant stream of work related stuff coming through to him all day long and right through the evening and night.

In fact, my friends theory is that eventually offices will become redundant, pandemic or no pandemic - and workers will operate from home more and more. He tells me that the productivity figures of workers who do this already far outweigh those who are traditionally housed in a four-square office. Think about it. You run your business from your employees homes and get them to work twice as many hours as they would traditionally work from a city centre site that costs your employer a small fortune to fill with workers - who can produce much more for you based at home.

Also, as my young friend said to me - “I’m the one who has to pay for the extra heating, lighting and power costs working from home for the benefit of my employer.” So let’s hear less about those - “…who often lack purpose or confidence in their ability to add value” shall we?