A very simple statement! So what do they sign on for?
At the most basic level it is earn money so they can survive – feed their family, put a roof over their head etc. In the Mazlow hierarchy – survival needs and security needs are paramount for all. The current refugee crisis globally is confronting us every day and it highlights this in the most graphic way.
In Australia our work culture has a history of making life style choices (see Blog).
It maybe argued that many Australians actually only work to get money to fund their most basic need and above that to fund a lifestyle which includes maintaining their family and / or a certain lifestyle beyond that. Certainly while “all” may recognise and acknowledge the need for business to make a profit, the well developed egalitarian culture and sense of justice means that Australians are very sensitive to who makes the money and while we are a hard working culture there are very few who work to make shareholders (employers) “rich”. The challenge for employers is to create an environment where employees can meet some of the higher order needs while they are working.
There is now abundant research in many places, which indicate that human beings enjoy work for many reasons, only one of which is money.
While profits are fundamental to any business, they really are only the oxygen, which enables a business to survive.
There is not one human being anywhere that lives to breathe!
We require more that that – whether it is a Noble Purpose or a Tangible Objective. It is the aspiration to progress, which drives us all. It maybe the pursuit of Mastery.(to be the best you can be). It may be the chance to make a difference in the life of a customer or to make a difference in the world.
One only has to look at parents with children, volunteers in any cause. Each group will give their all in the pursuit of a Greater Good or a Noble Purpose.
It is instinctively human.
This pursuit of the greater Good or Noble purpose drives us all in so many ways –Australians rally around each other in a crises –Floods, Bush Fires, Family and human tragedy Australians believe that this brings out the best in us. So many work for voluntary causes – SES, RED CROSS and the myriad of organisations which require community support to survive: people work for nothing!
It is interesting to ponder how does this learning translate to the work environment.
Consider this story (original source):
…John Donnelly, whose company manufactured most car mirrors. Shortly before his death at the age of 74 he remarked.” What will I have achieved in life if all I have done is make car mirrors-there has to be more than that.” So part of his life mission, beyond making safety-enhancing car mirrors, was to create meaningful involving work experiences. To accomplish this, he pioneered organisation of his employees into self-managed work groups and shared profits with them when times were good. By engaging them in structuring their own work and setting their own goals, he added purpose to their lives, and he made the Donnelly Corporation not only profitable but a place worker raved about.
Noble Purpose the Joy of Living a meaningful Life: William Damon. Introduction By David Myers (Pg xii)
It seems to me that much of Australian Business is locked in an Industrial Relations time warp – serious changes need to be made – and there are major disruptions to come. The issue is has nothing to do with protecting jobs –that is a “defensive’ and self serving mentality from a Union movement fighting for survival.
The focus must be on creating a business environment that creates wealth and prosperity as we tackle the challenges of the next 20 years.
The work environments are changing as I write and there is a big question to be answered?
How can business contribute to creating an environment where wealth and prosperity in Australia is celebrated in the same way as Sport and/ or the Arts?
Australia needs a culture where business is celebrated as the primary wealth creating Sector – and the workforce are partners in that journey – there is no one out there working to make other people rich!!