How many bullshit jobs do you have?

By pete 3 years ago


As they say, it takes a bullshit artist to know one. Where do you rank?

The book “Bullshit Jobs” (Simon & Schuster), by David Graeber, raises some interesting perspectives on the sheer number of jobs that exist that add no real value and are essentially meaningless (and for many soul destroying).

He talks about “duct tapers” who are hired to patch or bridge major flaws that their bosses are too lazy or inept to fix systemically. He also argues that there are millions of people across the world — clerical workers, administrators, consultants, telemarketers, corporate lawyers, service personnel, and many others — who are toiling away in meaningless, unnecessary jobs, and they know it. Sometimes driven by inefficiencies and increasingly because businesses will not embrace relevant technology.

The pandemic has been brilliant at putting a spot light on important roles – those in no way bullshit. Front-line workers in so many different forms have come to the fore. Health workers, supermarket staff, logistics workers, school teachers (albeit remotely), police and who ever got their role deemed ‘essential services’ by the Government. At one point it seemed whoever was making toilet paper were in our most treasured roles! Some of these roles perhaps do not get the recognition they deserve, and thanks to COVID for driving needed conversation about this. COVID has also been brilliant in raising big questions about the gig economy – is a bullshit job one with no security? And of course there is always the question, is any job (bullshit or otherwise) better than no job? Perhaps that is the motivation to Government for keeping Job Seeker payments so painfully low?

However, if we move beyond these many philosophical questions and simply ponder what role can you play in eliminating bullshit jobs, there may be some immediate upside. Think about your own role. What tasks do you currently undertake that add no value? What would happen if you stopped? What processes could  you re-engineer to get rid of meaningless jobs that are the by-product of lazy work-arounds? How can you build more meaning for yourself and others by developing a greater sense of purpose – ‘the why’ of what you do? How can ensure you are adopting viable technologies to free yourself or others from drudgery? How do you ensure people feel valued in their roles – recognition, security, fair rewards, etc?

Frankly, if you are thinking bullshit jobs do not need to be on your radar, then you are thinking bullshit.

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