Starting a New Job?

I recently saw an article entitled, “The 80-95% Rule: Why not giving your all in a new job could actually make you more successful.” A viral TikTok video argues: “You teach people how to treat you.” At the time I’m writing this article, the video has captured over 340,000 viewers. 

The author states, “If you are pulling extra hours, saying yes to everything, going above and beyond, 110% straight out the gate, that’s actually going to become your baseline normal. Instead she recommends setting out how you expect to continue by only putting in about 80% to 95% of your energy into the new job. Then you can dial up your efforts to 100% or more when you really need to. For important presentations, or if your team is in crisis mode.” 

I wholeheartedly disagree with only putting in 80-95% of your energy into the new job, although I agree with the tenet of teaching people how to treat you. I believe you can give 100% of your energy to a new job AND set boundaries to establish foundations for how you’d like people to treat you. 

Looking at Work Through a Biblical Lens

First, let’s look through a Biblical lens at work. What does Scripture tell us? 

  • Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 
  • Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 
  • Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 – For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 

To me, Scripture is very clear we are to work hard, with the aim of pleasing God with the talents He’s given us. Additionally, not working, or not working hard, is condemned. 

Next, let’s look through a logic lens. Several responses to the video hit some great points: 

  • “When you start a new job, you are constantly under observation and this is the right time to demonstrate that you were the right person for that job.” 
  • “I got a promotion after 3 months by firing up straight away.” 
  • “I found the 110% effort put in the first 6 months built the equity to come and go as needed without anyone batting an eyelid.” 

So, if as Christ followers we know we’re supposed to work hard, and we also see the logic of how that hard work can be seen in a positive light, how can we establish sound boundaries for our work, so supervisors don’t expect more out of us than they should (what I think is the essence of the TikTok video)? 

Establishing Expectations

As with many supervisor / employee situations, much of establishing the expectations and outcomes in a working relationship stem from good communication.  Here are a few I’d suggest: 

1. Ensure you have gotten clear expectations from your supervisor on what deliverables are due and when. Unless dates and numbers are involved, you probably haven’t gotten enough clarity. 

2. Be clear with your supervisor about what you can or can’t do.  For example, if your job description doesn’t include overtime expectations, be sure to set boundaries on when you can be reached / when you can’t. Or if daycare pick up is necessary, be sure to communicate what you need. Please be aware that when you start communicating your needs, that may trigger your supervisor to think of some additional expectations. 🙂 

3. Recognize special circumstances may come about that call for more than 100% of your effort.  Every job I’ve seen has some capacity elasticity.  You’ll need to recognize that unforeseen circumstances may require more effort, along with the seasonality that exists with some jobs. 

4. Be smart with your work to become as effective and efficient as possible. Ideally you’ll become so proficient at your job that it will appear easy to others, and you’ll enjoy the rewards of having achieved that proficiency. 

Bottom line, I believe we should always give 100% of our efforts to our work, and build in the expectations and boundaries necessary to ensure we can best manage our capacities. Blessings! 

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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