Temps Aren’t Held Accountable?


What would you do?

(Based on a true story!)

You’re a long-term contract worker in a company, hoping to get permanently hired. You’re handed a task to write and post a short article on the company website about several very highly-placed people in your company, and you do.

It turns out you didn’t do that great of a job, grammar all over the place and misspellings galore, including–ack!–misspelling one of those highly-placed person’s names…who unfortunately notices it before anyone else does and calls up your boss in a tizzy.

But you don’t find any of that out until you’re about to leave for the day.

Do you:

  1. Fire your computer back up and fix your mistakes before leaving
  2. Mumble something about being distracted when you wrote it, say you have to leave for an appointment and run
  3. Say you were distracted, leave for an “appointment” but then are seen posting on Facebook about personal stuff when you get home a few minutes later

The person involved chose #3. Not sure that’s so wrong? All it takes is ONE co-worker to see what you’re doing online when you shouldn’t be and you’ve got trouble. And don’t think having privacy set to “Friends of Friends” or even “Friends” is safe, because you never know who knows whom, or who’s looking over somebody else’s shoulder. Or who wants a chance to do you some dirt.

Which is what happened in this case. A co-worker did notice #3, did tell their boss–and the boss involved said that because this person was not a permanent member of the staff, any mistake that person makes falls on the permanent employees.

So wait a minute: Not only do we not have accountability on the part of the contractor, but we don’t have it on the the company’s part either!

There are two things to be learned here:

  • There’s no “only” about being a contractor when you’re putting in the same hours as the permanent employee in the cube next to you. The work you do is real work and it should matter.
  • If contractors or temps aren’t held to the same standard as permanent employees, why have them do the work at all–especially work that’s in the public eye?

Everybody makes mistakes. We may hate it, but it’s how we learn. And you can’t learn if someone is always covering up for you, dusting away all traces of your botched-up job. Or rather, you DO learn something–that the company supports hiring people who get away with doing half-arsed jobs.

And just in case you were wondering, the correct choice above is #1. Why? Because unless you’ve got a truly pressing appointment after work or can get to the issue later the same night, you’d better be invested in making all those angry bosses into happy bosses ASAP. That is, if you want to be more than a contractor with lousy benefits (unless you’re lucky) and little to no job security (ditto)!

What’s been your contracting or temp work experience?

Work Ethic: For the Birds?

6:42 AM. I parked my car and gathered up my still-warm mug of pomegranate green tea, my lunch bag and my purse. I zipped up my coat and put on my gloves, preparing for the chilly-snap nippiness waiting for me outside.


As 29°F rushed to meet me, I heard something I hadn’t heard for awhile: Birdsong. Beautiful birdsong. Robins, I think, with perhaps a blackbird or two.  I looked around and spotted a few, clinging to stark branches, silhouetted against the lightening sky.

And I thought how incredibly lovely it was to hear this summery sound here in the wintry chill of early spring, evocative of childhood, summer vacation and the bliss of knowing you could step outside without a jacket.

I also thought, Are they nuts?

Hail had come bouncing down around our ears just the other day. Snow could still coat the ground, the winds could howl and we’ll all be cursing as we chipped ice off our cars.

But no. The calendar had told the birds to come back, so come back they did.

Granted, instinct goes into that driving force. But it got me to thinking: These birds aren’t putting on the brakes and turning back at the first sign of trouble. They may have to dig a little deeper and search a little harder for what they need as they’re hopping around all puffed up, but they’re here, and they’re staying here, and every day—rain, snow, fierce winds—they get up and sing.


So what about from the human point of view? Think of your current job or jobs you’ve had in the past. If you know you’re heading into a storm, whether it’s because you have a hectic, stressful workplace, or you hate your boss, or you feel your soul has been mortgaged, how do you handle it? When it’s raining on your day, do you call in “sick?”

Everyone needs a personal day to recharge, but hiding at home won’t help forever. Take the work ethic of the birds, but turn it into something that fits your short and long-term goals, and what you want out of your life and career. Set aside an hour for dedicated job search, sign up for a class to increase your skills for that promotion, start tapping your network for other opportunities.

Every second you spend being miserable is a shot against your overall well-being. The important thing to remember is that you have options, but you have to use them. If it’s always going to pour buckets on you, it’s up to you to get a new migratory pattern.

Just try telling that to the birds.