Workers: The New Activists

I have been questioning the workplace rules and norms since the day I started working in the corporate. If you have been following me, you probably heard and read these at least a few times:

  • Hating every Monday and constantly waiting for Fridays
  • Working just to get paid while you suffer every day
  • Seen as a number, not a person
  • Easier to get rid of people than an office desk
  • Work being prioritized over family
  • “Looking busy” at work can be more valuable than producing results
  • Unnecessary bureaucracy to the level you need 3 signatures for simple stationery
  • Being told to be grateful because you have a job
    No space for “caring”

These all surprised me. You know the list can still be longer.

This started with Factory Age, continued in the Industrial Age and came to its limits in the last few decades.

Things are shifting pretty rapidly especially after the pandemic. These 2 years gave people the chance to weave their work into their own rhythm. Until the Factory age everyone had their own work in their own rhythm. There was no separation between work and life. We invented 9 to 5 and “going to the office” around 150+ years ago.

Since I was one of the weirdest one to question the things I observed (the list above), I felt something was wrong with me. I am very excited to see the shift now.

This shift happened as a result of many factors; what matters now is millions of people are questioning these work norms and demanding better conditions.

That is why they are the new activists.

It is definitely not the first time people demanded more. Yet the two new generations grew up in a world that made it obvious that many of our systems are broken. They were able to see very clearly companies are damaging people’s lives and the planet. They witnessed first hand when their parents got laid off even if they worked very hard and did everything right. Some even lost their homes. So what was the satisfaction of working for these companies again?

In the first decades at least jobs provided safety; having a stable income in turn for a lot of sacrifices. When that is gone, what is left to do? Except there is the necessity to have a job to pay the bills.

I grew up hearing from my dad if you work very hard you will make enough money. There is no guarantee anymore.

Too many people live paycheck to paycheck not knowing how long they will keep their jobs. That is no way of living with dignity. Too much is at stake. They do not know if they can pay the bills, pay the next rent, provide a good education for their children even if they worked very hard.

I talk to many who leave their jobs. They make less money, downgrade their life style, earn nothing for months to come; to keep their dignity and humanity. Not everyone who leaves has the means, yet they do not want to sell their soul. I get that.

All generations feel the pain.

That is why workers are the activists now and demand more. I am glad everyone is pushing the envelope. This may be the breaking point we needed to make the changes we needed for a long time.

We are in this together.

We have to make this world a better place. Western world is always so proud to lead. How about leading with the most human workplaces and salaries?


Brooke O. Erol
Brooke O. Erol
Brooke O. Erol started her career at IBM following the traditional path she was given to be "successful". She quit her "great job" on paper after 11 years, feeling she is not aligned with it. She started her journey to find her purpose in life. She started her first business in 2003; Your Best Life to help professionals who don’t like their jobs and want to find more meaning at work. After being around so many unhappy people at work as her clients, she decided to help the organizations and leaders who employed them. She started her second business; Purposeful Business to help leaders catch up with our times and grow their businesses without sacrificing the well-being of their people; where profit becomes a by-product rather than the main goal. She believes life is too precious to live only for weekends and retirement. She is the author of Create a Life You Love. She is also the co-author of "From Hierarchy to High Performance: Unleashing the Hidden Superpowers of Ordinary People to Realize Extraordinary Results" that became an International Best Seller in 2018. She speaks and writes about Leadership, Purpose-Driven Life and Organizations, Future of Work in the US, and abroad.

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