When I set out to write this, I had no idea that SE was such a recognized and defined concept. It was a theory that I readily grasped and tried to adhere to but I didn’t expect to find as much written about it as I did. Look at these definitions I found online.
The Encarta English Dictionary (North America) defines it as equity from contributed labor, aka equity in property earned by virtue of carrying out manual work to improve the property or make it habitable.
Wikipedia defines it as an interest or increased value in a property earned from labor toward upkeep or restoration or value added to real estate by owners who make improvements by their own toil.
And good old Webster’s (the book, y’all) says that it’s the owner’s labor on improvements that increase the value of their property.
And even though there was no definition of the concept pertaining to the workplace, it’s easy to fit the idea into workplace culture. You exchange “homeowner” for employee, manager or worker and “property” for workplace, department or business and the definition fits nicely. But regardless of how well it fits, it’s an idea that seems to be foreign to many of today’s managers.
Put simply, workplace sweat equity is stake or interest in a department, project or endeavor driven by the labor performed by individuals with stake in those entities and managers that bring none to the table are causing damage to the continuity of their departments and continued health of their charges. It’s delegation of authority on steroids that’s gone berserk. It’s laziness to the extreme, often sanctioned and more managers in today’s workplace get away with it than you’d realize.
Maybe it’s because they don’t recognize what the loss is when their physical input isn’t made readily available. That’s possible since there’s a lot more at stake that’s intangible than what easily meets the eye in those types of situations. Such incorporeal advantages are things like
- Departmental respect and cooperation
- Low stress levels
- Points for higher wage negotiations (for all parties)
On the other hand, it’s more than likely that those who do not provide any type of assistance to their staff know exactly what they’re doing and are simply taking advantage of their manager’s privilege, real or imagined. They do nothing because they know they can and will still get paid.
Over the long run though, they ultimately lose because such inaction can’t go unnoticed forever but it could take more than a little bit of time to be brought to the forefront. Unfortunately, with stress lurking as the silent killer in the workplace, time is often exactly what employees in those types of situations don’t have.