paying your dues

Should We Still Be Paying Our Dues?

Have you ever heard someone tell you, you have to “pay your dues”? It has been a common phrase then and can often be used now. More of a traditional phrase, it has been used with the mindset of the need to work hard to get to the position we want. However, in a changing job market and workplace environment, not to mention a new generation of workers, we are starting to see a shift in what “paying your dues” mean and the outcomes that come from doing so.

Let us consider the time in which our parents and our grandparents had to work hard to pay their dues. Then, working hard for a company was an exchange for loyalty, job security, and time where employers invested and place value on their employees to make both the business and their employees grow and move forward. It was seen as a sacrifice worthwhile as the relationship with employee and employer exist.

That’s not to say it wasn’t good advice because it was; however, there are shifts in the job market and the attitude of this generation workers. So, what has changed? Well, for starters, employees are skeptical of the belief of employers investing time in them because they think they are expendable and easily disposable at any time. With that belief, attitudes change towards the job market as being a place where job change is the way to gain your market value. After all, we are continually hearing a phrase about learning how to market ourselves.

It’s becoming a way in which workers today are learning to be marketable through their skills. Workers today are learning to acquire new skills through positions to be able to market to an employer who wants specific core skills. It’s a different attitude the workers have today in reflection to the change in the relationship between employers and employees and the goal and intention of the company. Although the phrase “paying your dues” is not the same as it once was, it still has in mind the value of putting in the work and effort to get to the position we desire.

We can’t demand a position of upper management if we have not gained the skills or experience to work at that level, including the respect of co-workers. We still need to “pay our dues” and ensure we are gaining value and matter from the work we are doing now. Even though “paying our dues” doesn’t carry the same meaning or weight as it did then, we still have to pay it forward by doing something that is productive and gives us the opportunity to gain experience and to learn.

But you want to be careful, spending too much-paying dues can lead to a dead-end job where you can spend most of your time working on something that isn’t challenging, has little to no learning opportunities or is not allowing you to move ahead. If you are going to be “paying your dues”, you want to make sure you understand how the work you are doing now matters and affects business to learn and build transferable skills to apply to another position. The phrase we hear more often deals with the ability to market ourselves and our abilities to be able to appeal to an employer looking to hire. It is this idea that we need to constantly be adding value to ourselves to bring value to the work we do and essentially the company we work for to make ourselves less expendable to find our market value in another position.

What does “paying your dues” mean to you, and do you agree that in this new job market and coming generation of workers it has changed? Tell us in the comments below.

For an interesting read on “paying your dues” check out this article.  

Leave a Comment