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Nate's Work Place Survival Guide: Above and Beyond Or The Bare Minimum?

Updated on December 16, 2009


In most jobs going above and beyond is not only a good thing, it's generally required if you want to get anywhere.

But what if you have more than one job? What if the job you've currently landed is just a stop gap? A bread and butter job that you use to pay the rent and feed yourself while what you're really after is still awhile off? How much effort do you really have to put into it?

Millions of students work a part-time job while they're in high school or at college. And in this economy it's not uncommon to have two or three jobs at the same time. But everyone burns out. Everyone has to prioritize and decide what's more important and in what order.

If your job is just a paycheck job then that's how you have to treat it. Punch in on time, work your shift and go home. Do what's asked of you, of course and collect your paycheck at the end of the day. When the boss or any managers try to contact you on your days off, just ignore them or let your voice mail pick it up. Eventually they'll get the hint but be careful.

Lets closely examine the line between going above and beyond and doing the bare minimum.

The Bare Minimum


Taking Initiative

This is not outright refusing to do something. But it is only doing tasks you are assigned to and only helping out when you're asked. When a coworker is stocking shelves, for example, you're certainly not required to stop and ask if they need a hand.

You don't want to seem antisocial, however. In other words do the bare minimum asked of you but don't be a jerk to someone who goes above and beyond and asks for your help.

Helping Customers

When a customer asks you where a product is on a really busy day, the only thing you're required to do is to politely point them in the right direction. Be careful not to seem rude or like you're brushing them off, however, as a customer complaint against you could lead to being written up and possibly termination.

Working on Days Off

Turn your cell phone off and ignore any message you get from work on your day off. If you don't want to work on your day off it's that simple. Clock in when you're scheduled, work your shift and go home at the end of the day. No employer can make you come in on your day off so if you do wind up choosing to work that day, remember my advice from an earlier article and don't complain about it.

Going Above and Beyond

          Taking Initiative

When you complete a task that's been assigned to you, instead of sitting around and waiting for more to do, you seek out your supervisor and ask what's next. This shows that you wish to be a part of the team and it makes you appear to be more reliable.

Helping Customers

There are very few jobs where you won't have some interaction with the customer. In the case of starting-level associates, you'll likely have more contact with the customer than any members of management.

Going above and beyond for a customer may be something simple as carrying groceries out to their car, or discreetly bagging items that are meant to be gifts for kids who are standing just a few feet away from their parents. It may be giving your honest opinion about an expensive product they're considering buying for their children when you know of something similar that is half the price and just as effective.

Working on your Day Off

This is, of course, a big one. On your day off you may be contacted by your boss or the supervisor on duty and asked to come in to cover for someone who either called in sick, didn't come in at all, or because they just need an extra set of hands. If you agree to do this you may earn brownie points but at the same time, the extra money in the paycheck may be your only reward.


Just remember, when going above and beyond what's required of you, you're doing it for you. Yes, there is a chance that you will get on your boss' good side and maybe a customer will be super grateful to you for your help. But in all likelihood you aren't going to make employee of the year. And it's a very rare thing to actually be rewarded when a customer compliments you because frankly, that's what's expected of you.

On the other hand, when you chose to just do the bare minimum, you can lose out on things like the extra hours at work and pay increases. Generally, people who only do what's required, or stand around waiting for instructions rarely get offered supervisor positions.

So whatever you decide, be prepared for the consequences, good and bad.


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    • GNelson profile image

      GNelson 6 years ago from Florida

      Good advice, again. It is amazing how simple it is if you just try!