(The Humanitarian Social Network)
As I talk to aid workers of all ages (early 20's through post-retirement), in all roles (cubicle farmers, marketers, hardened field veterans...), working for most every kind of aid organization (tiny startup charities to mammoth UN agencies), feeling some level of being dissed/abused/maligned/taken for granted/underpaid is anecdotally the most common theme.
So, draw the lines for yourself now: what would it take to make you walk? What would it take to make you walk away from a job in the aid world? What would it take to make you walk from your current job? What would it take to make you leave the aid world/humanitarian sector entirely?
Be as general or as specific as you want.
Wow big question...Feeling I'm underpaid and I have no job security, most of the time...sometimes even bored of all the dumbassery, bureaucracy and paperwork that is useless...but whenever I get a chance to work face to face with so called "beneficiaries" (word that I hate, as they are people, like us, and there is no nice way to label "them"), I'm again aware of why one day I thought working in development was a good idea. I'm quite lucky that in general I get a chance to develop in few or long days a relationship with people, same as with any other friend from around the world. And in those days -beyond delivering a project, doing M&E of it and any other thing I'm suppose to do- I see how wonderful are human interactions to make each other a bit stronger in your own path.
It may sound too "sweet" or even naive for some of you, but I generally feel that human interactions that are honest, positive and transparent generally bring a lot out of all of us (human beings), despite the project you are involved in and if people are also receiving other things (resources, knowledge, skills, etc.).
So, sometimes I wonder if I could get something like this in another job...maybe yes, but so far I didn't get it somewhere else (and I used to work for universities as well as for companies).
Another thing that is holding me here is the belief that those who hold the power tell the story. So, working in participatory media is letting me see how power can shift hands and amplify other stories and messages, holding duty bearers accountable, but also NGOs and donors...
So, if anyone has an idea of where I can do this for more money and with job security out of the development sector, I'd love to hear about it! :)
I think I get what you are trying to say (self-care and boundaries and being treated right - and yes, those standards are important for each of us to establish), but really, most of my non-aid worker friends and family feel exactly the same about their jobs/employers. Overwork, underpay, undervalued by their boss, crappy holidays, no time with family, sh*tty benefits... It seems to be a pretty universal side-effect of working for someone else!
While it's a good thing to establish boundaries (both professional and personal) within the workplace, surely threatening to "leave the aid world" as a result of those feelings just plays into our "without me the aid world will collapse like in a soap opera" complex? And, say we do leave the aid world and go to work for a nice, cozy (so we think) for-profit organisation, and then we find the same or worse there, and we can no longer cling to our idealised notions about other sectors?
If I can't find anyone decent to work for, I'll work for myself. And if I do change careers (and statistically most of us will, at least once in our professional lives), it will be because my interests/passions have changed (or by some fluke accident). No drama needed! Just saying.
who said anything about drama or soap operas?
you're saying that you'll leave the aid world when you get good and ready. 'bout right?
Hmmmm, the way you framed the question, with most aid workers: "feeling some level of being dissed/abused/maligned/taken for granted/underpaid", made me assume that you are asking what degree or combination of those factors would be enough to "make people walk" (which is a dramatic turn of phrase, hence my imagining (possibly misguided) that we're talking about a throw-up-your-arms-in-despair-and-storm-out, or shaking-your-head-and-closing-that-door-never-to-look-back kind of 'walking' as opposed to accidentally drifting off cause you got kinda distracted by something else).
And when you ask "would it take to make you walk away from a job in the aid world?" - it makes me think you were asking more about career changes than just leaving one job in aid and looking for a new job also in aid.
But I don't think any of the factors by which you frame the question are unique to aid, and therefore wouldn't be resolved by "walking out" on the aid world, so I guess what I'm saying is that I don't really understand what the question is about or how it's constructive to me personally. Which as I write it makes me realise that I probably shouldn't have tried to answer it in the first place! But since I put my foot in it already, I'll try to do it better than I did the first time.
I would quit a job in aid and look for another job, also in aid, if, among other things:
- I felt like I wasn't achieving anything and couldn't change enough factors to be able to achieve something;
- I disagreed personally or professionally so strongly with my management/colleagues that I could no longer be a constructive part of a team;
- I felt harassed, bullied or discriminated against and the organisation I worked for couldn't or wouldn't support me to resolve that situation;
- I felt that the work I was doing somehow conflicted with my personal ideals or ethics;
- I felt like I had given all I could in that job and got all I could out of it, and felt like it was time to move on (this is usually how it goes for me!).
I would leave the aid sector entirely, as I said before, if I became interested or passionate in another field of work.
Hope that was more helpful than my previous response!
"...I don't think any of the factors by which you frame the question are unique to aid, and therefore wouldn't be resolved by "walking out" on the aid world..."
As it turns out, this is "The Humanitarian Social Network", and so in here we are specifically discussing the aid world. Just because other industries or sector have similar issues doesn't mean it's pointless or illegitimate or not 'constructive' to discuss them in the context of our particular sector.
Interesting question. Self-care/family care is an important consideration. But I'm also wondering what sort of ethical boundaries would your employer org have to cross to make people walk...
Realistically, I won't walk. I'm far enough into aid and old enough now that I won't seriously contemplate another career. I'm all in, for this hand anyway.
I'd leave an employer for another aid sector job if they messed too much with my personal life. Or if the organization was so bad or restrictive or unprofessional, or, or, or that I couldn't be effective. And there was another opportunity. Slippery slopes all around, I know.
I'd leave the aid sector for another career entirely if I became convinced that I could do no additional good and I had another viable option. Without another viable option, I'd continue to work in aid and just become increasingly cynical (bills don't pay themselves)
The 'other viable option' bit is key. We'll (or I'll) put up with a lot if there are no other options.
No viable options... well, that is a sad reality.
reality usually *is* sad...
I can see why you posted your latest status update. >:>
Should we also ponder the question -- Would you still have the strength to walk? What we're talking about here is soul feeding work vs. soul destroying work. Those who've ever had a small portion of their soul destroyed by x, y, z might say - yes, I'd walk. But I'm not even sure if it's worth it any more.
In this light, I also think it's worth considering this: With such soul destroying work consuming your life, and let's say, hypothetically, you have the strength to walk... (I'm also assuming that your employee resents you by now as much as you resent them) how do you leave your company without some serious regret or drama, or, at the very least, a little passive aggression from your colleagues?
I walked once. Abusive treatment by my manager was an underlying problem that would probably have worn me down within a few months, but an instruction to do something I knew would hurt a target population was the catalyst.
For a while I considered leaving altogether, and took a break from the sector to clear my head. I was itching to get back into it within a few months, though. I think I'm just too invested -- my interests, work, and identity are all tied up together.