So it has been snowing across the UK. As I look in the news and read twitter feeds and facebooks status updates, it is jam packed full of people cheering about having the day off work, schools being closed and so on. As you could see from my blog entry yesterday, I think we should all get out int he world and have some play and enjoy the snow… But the tone of many seems to be more telling than just enjoying the snow.
Many seem pleased to not have to work.
“Yeah… And so what, Adam?”
When we dig a little further and explore the reasons people go to work, many, many people openly state the only reason for going to work is for the money. Not just the main reason, but the only reason.
So a situation is created whereby people are almost forcing themselves, as well as being forced by society and the life they lead, to go to work. It is true to say that no one really enjoys being forced to do anything. When we believe that others are orchestrating aspects of our lives, we do not engage mentally. So perhaps money drains our motivation to go to work?
Then when the snow comes, whether people can get in or not… They are not going anywhere near the work place. It’s not just the snow falling, it is minor illnesses and all kinds of other reasons for not going to work that people use. But when it snows in this major way as it has done here in the UK, it happens en masse and is very noticeable indeed.
A friend of mine who owns his own barber shop was stating on Facebook yesterday that one of the ‘problems’ of being self-employed was that he could not take time off… And being self-employed, I have found myself carrying on working… Though I do not find it a chore at all, I absolutely adore and love my work, I hope you can tell…
This notion of working only for reward has been researched. Several decades ago, in one lov ely experiment, psychologists gave children felt-tipped pens to play with, an activity that was mostly enjoyed. I am guessing plenty of them drew on the walls and carpet and many smudges were found on faces and arms when they got home. However, half of the children got paid for using the felt-tips.
What would happen? How would the kids react to getting money? Would they be more interested in using the pens now? The resulting evidence was immediately obvious to the researchers. The kids who had been given money lost most of their interest in playing with the pens, and felt far less inclined to play with them if they were not paid to do so! When given the pens without any cash, they did not really want to do so. Using felt-tip pens had turned into work!
Those poor kids, eh? They had the joy of felt-tip pens deleted from their lives in the name of psychological advancement!
There are many folk out there who work because they enjoy what they do. Some even love what they do. One of my closest friends loves to go fishing. In all weather conditions, he goes out there and sits by lakes, rivers and seas with his rod. he does not do it to feed his family fish. He just loves doing it. Most of the time, as per rules and regulations, he just throws the fish back in as soon as they are caught, yet he retains huge enthusiasm for it.
Motivation theorists suggest that we are intrinsically motivated for such activities.
I think the attitude to the snow has highlighted that many people are not intrinsically motivated for the work they do, which is the reason that they need to be paid to do it. Monetary reward, therefore is often very effective at motivating people to work and even work hard.
In fact, as you can see very openly with regards to lawyers and city workers who risk burning themselves out, when employees are paid for the units of work they do, they sometimes work so hard without taking adequate breaks, that they endanger their own well-being. This kind of work has is actually now disallowed in many professions and unions and organisations lobby against this kind of thing. So mostly, in this day and age, people tend to get paid for the amount of time that they work rather than on the basis of productivity.
In the UK, and much of the Western world, with the economic situation as it is currently, our government is currently looking at ways of rewarding people for working and getting people motivated to work.
Though money is a big motivator, it is really the only thing that gets people into the work place?
Although you may not believe it when it snows in the UK, there is also some evidence to suggest that many workers find their jobs intrinsically rewarding.
What do people do when you take money out of the equation?
Have you know people who have retired? Some use the time to actively pursue goals and hobbies and never look back, my father-in-law is one such man who does so much with his retirement, that he loves it. Though, on the flip-side, others cannot endure the idea of spending time at home with their husband or wife, or in the quiet of a retirement location away from the life they once knew, and either do return to work or yearn to do so…
Have you looked at what lottery winners have done once they have had their winnings? Half tend to quit working in an instant. Yet the other half stay on and keep working as if they had not won the money.
Looking at the history books of the Soviet Union when it fell, huge numbers of workers were unpaid month after month. Yet the majority of them carried on going to work. The familiarity and routine of their working role was a better option than being at home without options.
Ok, there was lots of reading today without a break, so here is a picture of some men working:
Of course, excelling at work, being rewarded for working well, and becoming good at it is likely to make work more enjoyable whether you are writing up accounts for another company, chopping a tree down or doing surgery on someone’s brain. We tend to enjoy being appreciated and respected and often enjoy kudos these things can bring.
Social interaction, friendships made, structure, social and emotional reward and many other things all help to ensure that people return to work, as well as money… Though when it snows, I think we can all rest assured that many of the reasons fly out of the window! 🙂
My Grandfather worked on a farm all his life, 7 days a week, 365 days a year… Never took time off if he was ill, and certainly snow would not have stopped him… It just was not in the mindset of the nature of work on a farm… Yet I think he loved being outdoors, and he loved the banter, and the structure and had an appreciation for so much of what he did… And it got him away from my Nana for periods of time!
Ok, I have a weekend diploma course to prepare for, I’ll be back on Monday folks… Especially as we are getting rain and sunshine this weekend to replace the snow… Bournemouth will certainly have more people back in the work place methinks.
Some of the books that I have read (Drive by Daniel Pink springs to mind, as well as Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely) suggest that rather than being a motivator, money is an anti-demotivator. That is, if your job is absolutely rubbish (such as working at a sewage works), then you have to be paid more to encourage you to work there.
People who love their jobs often do it, regardless of the rewards, because they love it.
In my own life, I took a significant pay cut to work for a company that I thought embodied my ideal work environment.