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Richard Drew/PA Wire

Do you really need your bosses to prove how much they love you?

There’s a problem with work relationships. We nurture them and expect them to be like our personal ones. But they’re not and can never be, writes Karen Frampton.

ANOTHER WORKING WEEK has come to a close and it’s that time of the year when your boss proves just how much they love you with the Christmas bonus and whatever else is about to be bestowed upon you.

So this Christmas spare a thought for all the self-employed and those wearing the sole trader badges that look on in a somewhat forlorn manner through the pages of social media as you employees get to enjoy the office party or lunch en masse.

Who is there to give them their Christmas bonus? For many, getting paid right through December is akin to the Christmas miracle.

I met an acquaintance recently who moaned from start to finish about their employer and the fact that all they got were measly food vouchers from a store they don’t frequent.

I mean the downright cheek of said employer.

Don’t they know that it’s all about personalisation and actually doing your homework on where each of your employees shop before you go out and spend good money on them?

Oh come on. I wanted to stop them in their tracks but it became far too amusing to watch them become more and more animated with each sentence.

Jesus you’d swear it was their fiancé who got down on bended knee with an Argos ring from the Sapphire collection. Imagine the audacity of that. Ring size and box label must equal our inflated expectations of love.

So are we beginning to confuse the role of the employer with that of our nearest and dearest? Say ‘I love you’ with the euro sign and price tags?

This is such shaky ground on which to tread. But the more I think of it the more I fear it to be true for a lot of people. The employer woos you with the salary at the start of the working relationship; you take the equivalent of a beach stroll to the canteen on the first week of the job, chatting animatedly about your shared interests and similar career paths.

You feel like a teenager in the first flushes of love when they ask you to accompany them on a trip to a large client and wax lyrical at home to all and sundry about how impressive they are.

But then, as in all relationships the honeymoon period wears off and you find yourself starting to expect the “gift” equivalent more and more frequently.

Those corporate trips have become somewhat mundane and familiarity can certainly start the breeding of contempt. Then Christmas rolls around and lo and behold they give you a hefty bonus and vouchers for the local foodie grocery store that most people would covet.

But oh no; you immediately throw a strop and are none too pleased at the value they
have bestowed upon you. You were even heard to mutter that the office must be
going downhill with the quality of the crackers on the tree this year. The cheek of them going out and spending time and thought on the gift as a thank you for all your hard work.

I ask myself, ‘Does it really matter if the engagement ring is not as expensive as the one you spotted somebody wearing on Instagram last week (it probably wasn’t even theirs and furthermore I’m sure they cropped out the image of the jewellery store they were in at the time merely window-shopping)?’

You see, that’s the problem with work relationships. We nurture them and expect them to be like our personal ones. But they’re not and can never be.

You’re there to do a job. Fulfil HR’s job spec and not form any close bond with the company. To do that we need to have another human being with a heartbeat and emotions.

Employers don’t have these and nor should we expect them to. They’re there to do the job too just like everybody else.

So what of the self-employed professional who won’t have the boss down on bended knee bestowing them with the Christmas rock? There may well be no Christmas party to moan about the quality of the wine or champagne; no bonus to pick apart.

They’re too busy working right up until Christmas Eve making sure they can have some well-earned time off for even a few days. Plus they’re looking at the idiots scratching their heads in the aisles of the food store aimlessly trying to spend their voucher, begrudgingly
piling the trolley high with booze to erase all memory of the horrors of the Christmas
bonus debacle.

Karen Frampton is a career coach and founder of a new initiative When I Grow Up, which brings careers into the classroom and inspires children to think about a wide range of careers and professions.

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