Paul Butler: Gratitude at work

Paul Butler

Recently, I was reflecting on all the reasons we have to be grateful for our work in this land of plenty, and here are seven that stood out to me:

1. Biggest economy in the world

When it comes to the top national economies globally, although the order may shift around slightly from one year to the next, the key players are usually the same. At the top of the list is the United States of America, which according to Investopedia, has been at the head of the table going all the way back to 1871. With economic size comes a wealth of opportunities as an employee and an entrepreneur.

2. Biggest in the United States

The economy of California is the largest in the United States, boasting a $3 trillion gross state product as of 2018. As a sovereign nation, California would rank as the world’s fifth largest economy, ahead of India and behind Germany, according to Wikipedia. Last year the United States reported gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2% whereas our Golden State doubled that!

It is true that California has experienced its slowest rates of population growth ever recorded and an unprecedented migration of residents to other states, but from 2006 to 2016, California’s population grew by 9%. Although low for the state it was higher than the rest of the nation (8%). When you have that many people (nearly 40 million) who all need products and services, how can you fail to find work and do it well?

3. Retirement benefits

Did you know of the 195 countries in the world, less than half of them operate a social security system for their employees? Have you ever stopped to consider if you’re an employee that your employer matches dollar for dollar the deduction they take from your paycheck for Social Security and Medicare? Additionally, defined benefit and defined contribution plans are often made available by employers.

4. SUTA and FUTA

Have you ever stopped to consider your employer contributes to both a state (SUTA) and federal (FUTA) unemployment and workforce assistance program? These programs cost you nothing and are completely funded by employers.

5. Minimum wage

Although it’s true the vast majority of countries operate a minimum wage, the United States in comparable terms offers one of the highest in the world even when taking into account purchasing power parity (i.e. allowing for cost of living).

6. Vacation and sick pay

Although technically a “fringe” benefit (meaning U.S. employers are not required by law to provide either of them), more and more employers are offering vacation and sick pay to their employees. That’s like free money, right?

7. Overtime

Have you ever stopped to give thanks if you’re an employee to the fact that your employer is required to pay a minimum of 1.5 times your basic hourly rate if you work more than 40 hours a week and are a non-exempt employee (meaning not exempt from earning overtime)? There are many countries around the world where this is just not the case and “overtime pay” is a foreign concept.

The phrase, “a more perfect union” is found in the preamble to the United States Constitution and I sadly think this is overlooked in 2019, especially in our workplaces. This indeed is a country where corruption is not the norm. It’s a country where, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion, you can do your work without fear.

We’re working in an imperfect country but yet still a “more perfect union” than many, many countries around the world. I am sure we can all agree this is a union whereby, if you work hard and work well, you really should have a heart of gratitude for a system that not only provides and protects its people but also creates a platform for them to thrive.

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