5/1/12 | 1467 views
Poverty in the Workplace
This year we have been selecting a different virtue each month and applying that virtue to the workplace. But poverty does not sound like a virtue at all. Even worse, the idea of bringing such a deficiency into the very location where we earn our livelihood seems foreboding, maybe even something we should be avoiding, not embracing. Honestly, if we started looking like homeless people at the office, wouldn’t our co-workers and clients run in the opposite direction? Where is the virtue in that? Forcing a positive spin onto poverty sounds like a theological blunder and a notion that could get us fired instead of promoted.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, poverty is, in fact, a virtue. And putting this virtue of poverty into practice on the job will bring us substantial spiritual rewards and financial benefits as well.
If the word poverty conjures up only negative connotations, try substituting the word detachment instead. Now the virtue becomes extremely clear. All we need to do is ask ourselves a simple question: How emotionally involved are we with the accoutrements that surround us? Are we attached or detached?
The Carpeted Closet
How much work space does an employee need? True, the size of an office projects status. But two executives in three-piece suits crawling around on their hands and knees with a measuring tape to calculate the exact square footage of an office floor hardly smacks of detachment or virtue. So let’s look at our physical work area. Can we honestly say it wouldn’t matter if the boss told us to move into a smaller station tomorrow?
The Spandex Spending
When we’re asked to submit projected business expenses are we tempted to pad our budget so that we can experience the lap of luxury at our next convention? Modest accommodations may not be attractive to the colleagues who are traveling but frugal fares benefit the bottom line for all employees in the end. However, such thrifty planning presupposes that we value the virtue of detachment to begin with.
The Stealth Stapler
Yes, an employer must provide the staff with office supplies. But do we resist the temptation to treat business assets as private assets? For example, which of these three vignettes is the worst-case scenario when it comes to hoarding an item that was supposed to be shared? 1) The stapler soldered to a long chain which is bolted to our desk. 2) The stapler with the red strip of Dymo label glued on top that screams return to us or else. 3) The stapler hidden in our bottom drawer under lock and key. This month’s virtue reminds us that any property bought by the company is never the property of an individual user.
Damaging Due Diligence
People who are poor never need to be reminded to take care of the little bit they have. The danger in corporate America is to engender a devil-may-care attitude toward company resources. Take, for instance, employees who abuse the company tools because the boss is bound to replace anything that gets worn out or broken. This is far from virtuous and obviously an expensive waste. At the end of a Catholic worker’s day the devil may not care, but God certainly does.
Refill and Recycle
Not all disposable cups are biodegradable. Does this mean we get a free pass when unfriendly containers are the only option? The spirit of detachment within the virtue of poverty demands that we care for the earth which has been entrusted to our stewardship as a precious gift from the Creator. Therefore, we can pen our name across that morning Styrofoam of Joe and use this same cup over and over again throughout the day. This will save money and the environment.
For Holy Homework: Let’s resolve to practice the virtue of poverty at work this month by: saying a daily prayer of thanks for whatever workspace we’ve been given, shaving a percentage off the next travel budget we submit, displaying that office supply we’ve been hiding as our own, taking better care of the tools we have to work with, and bringing a reusable coffee mug to the job.
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