When the cat is away…

October 27, 2018

WHEN the boss is on a business trip, on personal leave or just stepped out of the office for a while, numerous employees feel the urge to goof off. What to do? Work even harder! Lest you think I am a ruthless slave driver, here are six good reasons why the mice should not play while the cat is away.

First, we won’t feel good in goofing off. It sounds strange, but neglecting our duties carries its own stress. There is the gnawing guilt of somehow cheating our employers and the fear of being found out. Put positively, if we are faithful to our tasks even when the boss is absent, we will experience a satisfaction that money cannot buy.

Second, there is always the risk that the boss will catch us red-handed. One funny anecdote is that of a staff who pampered himself with a much longer lunch break while his boss was overseas. Then out of the blue, his boss called him long-distance through cellphone – and the poor guy didn’t know how to answer without his boss hearing the piped-in music of the restaurant!

Third, we will prevent backlogs. Every minute wasted by not doing our job means one minute having to play catch-up. Thus, if the boss is out for one week and we slack off during that week, we will find ourselves frantically trying to finish the tasks when the week is over. Worse, if the boss returns and hands out new tasks to do, we now have the double whammy of ridding the backlog from last week and fulfilling the added assignments of this week.

Fourth, we will earn the boss’s confidence. Imagine the delight of your boss who has been away for quite some time and returns to see all your reports properly finished, your targets met and your workplace in order. Next, imagine your own delight during performance appraisal when the boss marks you as “does not need supervision” and even discusses your future in the company.

Fifth, we can add value to ourselves. Sometimes when the boss is away, he has left no new instructions and we finish our usual tasks ahead of time. This means extra time on our hands. Rather than wasting that extra time on Facebook, use it instead to learn more about the company. Catch up on your reading such as: How does the firm manufacture its products? What is happening in its markets? What are your competitors doing?

I have saved the sixth reason as the best for last: We will be pleasing God. Slavery existed in the Roman Empire. It may surprise you that the Apostle Paul did not incite these slaves to rebel against their masters. Rather, he admonished them to obey their earthly masters “in everything… not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord” (Colossians 3:22).

This instruction, revolutionary at the time in its own way, is based on the conviction that we report to a Boss in heaven aside from the one on earth. In the previous paragraphs, we talked about personal satisfaction and our boss’s delight as we discharge our tasks even while the boss is away. Our absentee human boss may not see our hard work, but our divine Boss does. As we stick to our tasks, we are putting a smile on His face.

In closing, let us work hard whether or not the “master” is around. Conscientious labor pays off in trustworthiness and competence, which in turn puts us in positions of higher responsibility. We will be pleasing ourselves, our boss and most of all, God Himself.

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