Employees Share 'Work Secrets' That Changed Their Lives

Many of us have experienced situations in our workplaces, or know someone else who has, that has changed perceptions about a certain person, company or profession.

A Quora thread, "What work secret did you accidentally find out that changed everything," is proof of that. Responses across different industries ran the gamut. All while the economy is trying to recover after the years-long pandemic that wreaked havoc in most industries.

Work Secrets
A Quora thread detailed "work secrets" and lessons learned by employees throughout their varied careers, all as the economy currently remains in flux. iStock/Getty Images

A Bookkeeping "Mistake"

One response from a man named Jim Ashton, which has been upvoted over 20,000 times, was not about him but his former girlfriend with reported obsessive-compulsive disorder. He said she formerly worked as a bank teller and, after multiple paychecks that seemed to short her and her co-workers on pay, looked into the matter.

She allegedly discovered that her unspecified company was not paying workers for holidays and weekends as part of their part-time salaries. When she brought it up to management, she was told to "keep quiet."

"Quiet was not her strong point," Ashton said. "She wrote a few letters, made a few calls. Her manager was pissed. But a month or so later everyone got a check for a 'mistake' in book keeping. I found it hard to believe a corp as big as a national bank 'accidentally' made such an error."

Dress For "Success"

Another man, Jim Martin of Calgary, Alberta, described himself as an IT guy with full arm tattoos and a shaved head who formerly wore jeans and band t-shirts. When he found out his position was being outsourced at his company, he panicked and wasn't sure if his persona could land him an interview elsewhere.

Knowing his tenure was coming to a close at year's end, he applied at other jobs but received no interviews. At the suggestion of his female companion, he "began dressing nicely for work" and his dress clothes eventually got him a better job at the same company.

"I'm not smarter in these clothes," he said. "I'm not more capable. I am exactly the same. But they see me differently, and I'm not above cashing that in."

Communication

Ron Mak managed construction crews three decades ago and found that communication was difficult with all the heavy machinery. Instead of alienating his employees with orders, he learned to sympathize with them and be more open to communication. It changed his career.

"I learned this communication technique after moving from Texas to Hawaii and watching my Japanese foremen talk to their crews," he said. "Respecting workers was super important."

Exploring

Other examples included a former Catholic school teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, who worked at an older building that contained no restrooms for employees. Since teachers had to share dirty bathrooms with students, it became a nuisance.

"Then, one day I learned a secret: there was a really nice bathroom behind the sacristy in the church that barely anyone knew about," said the user, Matthew Bates. It became his own hideout of sorts during midday breaks, an area of solace.

Economics

While there are numerous stories about individual workplace experiences from decades ago, the current state of the American economy remains in flux. While unemployment decreased in March, from 6 percent in March 2021 to 3.6 percent this year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation remains high and stagnant–including inflation in double digits in at least four states.

Some companies, like Deutsche Bank, have warned that the U.S. is on its way towards "a major recession." Last week the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point, the bank's biggest increase in two decades.

According to Investopedia, which cited data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15 of the top 25 highest-paying U.S. occupations are in healthcare—a field projected to grow 8 percent between 2020 and 2030.