If you’re like me, until recently you never even heard of ERI, let alone know if you suffer from it.
The term, coined by Johannes Siegrist, senior professor at the University of Dusseldorf, stands for Effort/Reward Imbalance.
The idea is that we all make a mental calculation when it comes to work. How does what I’m putting in compare to what I’m getting out of it?
In this insightful article on the topic from the Guardian, the author quotes Siegrist, saying there are two types of imbalance. “You can either do too little and receive too much or do too much and receive too little.”
In both cases, these imbalances can prove to be unhealthy. For those whose effort is great and reward small, it has been linked to heart problems and depression.
Surprisingly and perhaps less sympathetically, those on the other end who may feel their reward is unearned may also experience mental health issues.
So what is our response?
Well because no one likes to feel off balance, we recalculate our Effort/Reward for ourselves and dangerously for others.
We overstate our effort while understating those of others. And we minimize our own reward while overstating the reward of others.
In the process we throw shade on others in the form of guilt or shame.
The problem is both effort and reward are hard to quantify in our own lives let alone try to judge in others.
Both effort and reward are relative. They vary from day to day. They are both a point in time and a reflection of a lifetime of activity
So what is one to do?
If you’re reward is in excess of your effort — work harder… for others.
If you’re doing too much and receiving too little — demand more… with and from others.
You see the solution to ERI is not something we will find in our own heads but something we must seek in the company of others.
Thanks for reading the latest from Moving Up.