Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why We Work

Why do we work?

If your first answer was that we work for money.... you are not alone because this is usually the first reply. 

Of course we work for money, but the value of work goes far beyond the dollar. 

Not all of us toil the same and not of us view the meaning behind work the same. 

I-O Psychologists examine work from four general viewpoints: economic, religious, psychological, and philosophical. 
 The areas that underpin work meaning are not always equal, but for this introduction, let's look at them as four basic sections:

Quick story: 

I once heard a story about a counselor who worked with a very wealthy lady from Orange County California.  The woman was personally miserable - and after physical issues were ruled out, this counselor determined that she needed to hold a job for six months.  
She could not volunteer.  
She could not work at one of the places she owned. 
She had to get a real job and work under a real boss. 

After six months, the lady was a totally different women. I do not have all of the details and it was shared quite a while ago, but the point expressed was that sometimes as humans we have angst and unrest because maybe we are not challenged enough. Quite possibly if we, as humans, are not under authority in a way that allows us to be humbled and grow, we can get so full of ourselves to where we have complete unrest. 

Okay, so let's look at the meaning behind work from the economic, religious, psychological, and philosophical viewpoints. 

Economic views of work highlight that we work in order to attain financial resources and to enjoy a life with material resources. Taylor's classic view (scientific management here), which argued that employees were motivated solely by money and so he promoted the idea of "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."  This view offered some efficient ways to produce, but it was anemic as it failed to account for the soul, or culture, within a job and ignored teamwork, mental involvement, and an enjoyable work atmosphere. Employees do offer an exchange of services for pay, but money also serves to diminish dissatisfaction because without enough of it, people cannot provide for basic needs. 

Religious views of work sometimes posit that people with too much unstructured time will stray and wander in a way that fosters unhealthy impulses (too much idea time).  Some religious views suggest that work is a punishment from the Fall in Genesis. 
Religious views of meaningful work also posit that God as Creator designed each person to work in a way that allows them to feel fulfilled while using talents to serve and bless others - and bring glory to God. Many religious folks refer to some jobs as a calling that has been Divinely appointed for their lives.

The psychological view behind the meaning of work suggests that work itself can help a person develop their identity, personal accomplishment, and other personal satisfactions. Needs can be met from working with customers and colleagues and the union provided from work can fulfill. In addition, the structure and rhythm of a work schedule (or other duties) can enhance a person's life. The many different types of rewards that go beyond money are often targeted at meeting psychological needs. 

The philosophical view behind the meaning of work interplays with the mission found in the religious aims; however, a philosophical explanation of work suggests that workers derive meaning from their jobs.... it is good for a human being to create and tackle tasks - to use their mind and to provide for others. 

I suggest that we work for many reasons.  
I also suggest that our needs for and from work will change as we age, mature, and experience different things in life. 

Q: Why did Dr. Prior share the the economic, religious, psychological, and philosophical viewpoints of why people work?

A:  I shared the views because people need to learn that our reasons for working change as we change. 

The work motivation application:
The more we understand "why" we do what we do, the better we can stay in tune with what we need from work and the better we can understand about what motivates. Not all of us toil the same and not of us view the meaning behind work the same. 

Aristotle said, “we work to have leisure, on which happiness depends.”

The author of Ecclesiastes declared that "there's nothing better for people to do than to enjoy their work because that is their lot [in life]" (here). 

What about you?  How do you view the reasons for work? 

Have a great day and thanks for reading.