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Monday, February 27, 2012

Is your job like chewing a ‘sweetless’ gum?

It is likely that a number of people reading this article today are chewing a gum. And it is also likely that the gum you are chewing has kept you company for a little longer by now. The interesting thing about chewing gum is that it is flavored with sugars that are really attractive to the tongue for a short while and once the person chewing it gets used to the gum in the mouth, they keep chewing the gum long after the sugar content of gone.

The gum has a way of engaging your mind and mouth and makes the chewer still enjoy the company of the gum even without sugar. It keeps the person loyal to the gum and only throws it away due to chewing fatigue or when they must eat food.
This experience seems to have some interesting parallelism with the workplace. On the initial days at work, there is excitement as staff get to enjoy the new roles, relationships and challenges. The staff look forward to the following morning with great vigor as each day brings with it great opportunities for learning. The employer makes all effort to ensure the staff is well taken care of and opportunities for self-development easily splashed along the path.

 As months and years pass, the staff still remain glued to the employer as the gum is still in the mouth. Once in a while, the employer adds some sugar onto the gum in the form of staff loans, training opportunities or promotions and this keeps the staff chewing the gum. As the staff engage with the employer, there gets to a point when they feel fatigued and realize they are no longer finding sweetness in the gum. They drag themselves every morning and only consider the end month as the greatest moment to be with the employer.

It could be that the gum lost its sweetness but the staff is still chewing it. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, even when the gum loses its sweetness, the person chewing it still utilizes the same level of chewing energy though the levels of personal satisfaction are minimal. Such staff keep up the smile on the face even when the light in the heart is long gone. They endure their work as opposed to enjoying but since the gum has been fixed in their mouths and the employer promises to add some occasional sugar to it, they hung on.

The truth is many people continue to chew the gum until they have some substitute in the mouth. Other mouth uses, other than food that must be swallowed, do not necessitate the removal of the gum. For the staff whose roles have turned out to be like chewing gum, an opportunity to chew something else could be what they are seeking for greater satisfaction. The fact that people report to work daily and pursue their daily tasks is never an indicator of the level of satisfaction each of them is getting from the work. 

Some could just be providing good company to the rest yet both seem busy chewing gum. In the event the employee is not adding the sweetener to the gum, it is the responsibility of the staff to top up the gum with some sweeter experiences and this can be homegrown even without the intervention of the employer.

So, the next time to see someone chewing gum, do not be tempted to ask them for a chicklet as they may be chewing theirs to keep boredom at bay and not necessarily enjoying the sweetness therein.


  1. This is definitely the cycle of life. Basically even in our day to day endeavours, monotony wears out individuals especially those with very productive minds. One needs to assess their limits and ascertain when monotony sets in and then seek to 'get another chewing gum'. If not, when monotony sets in, try to curve another niche within the same working space especially if you have an employer who can allow such space. Ultimately, a gum must never be chewed for too long.

  2. there needs to be a balance by both the employer and the employee to make sure that the sugar in the gum benefits both parties. too much sugar will lead to teeth-aches while too less of sugar may eventually lead staff to spiting the gum out.
    this balance is not only monetary but wider, motivation, opportunities, appreciation etc.

  3. I am sure I need to engage on my gum...not sure it is still tasty.


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