Editorial: What is a worker?
You can’t replace a worker.
A worker isn’t an employee. The words might be listed as synonyms in the thesaurus, but there are big differences.
An employee collects a paycheck. Hasn’t everyone known an employee? That person whose main skill involves keeping a chair from floating away? Someone who gives the bare minimum of effort and huffs about not getting maximum reward?
Employees are easy to replace. Employees get replaced all the time. Employees measure their tenure in weeks or months. Employees might get a big paycheck or a big office but they don’t know what it’s like to get big respect.
Workers, on the other hand, are indispensable.
Workers come in early because clocking in on time means something to them. Workers stay late because they want the job done right.
Workers do their best because their sense of self won’t allow them to do anything else.
Workers ask for good pay because they know they are integral to the successful product of their business. They feel a part of their organization and believe that should be reciprocated.
Workers may be cogs in the machine, but they know good cogs are the difference between a functioning machine and broken junk.
And workers aren’t defined by how high or low they are in the hierarchy. Every CEO should be a good worker. So should every manager.
When we celebrate Labor Day, we take a breath and realize how much work it takes to keep our world turning the way that it does. It can be easy these days to worry about the jobs we do and what will happen to them in the future. Where will the workers go as what it means to have a job changes in a landscape of robots and artificial technology and self-driving cars?
Employees should worry about that.
But there will always be a place for workers.