A recent worldwide survey by recruitment firm Robert Half Finance and Accounting shows that, rather than money, a good relationship with co-workers and bosses is the most important motivating factor in the office for middle managers.
Four out of ten people who took part in the research rated good interpersonal relationships as their gateway to work happiness. It ranked above the kind of work they were doing, flexible hours and salary. At 63%, Australians came in second just behind the Dutch as the workers who most highly valued their work mates. Only those in the Czech Republic rated money as more important than colleagues.
Over the last decade there’s been a lot written about the job satisfaction matrix, while finding a happy balance between work and play has emerged as a significant social issue facing our contemporary society. Despite my early scepticism, “The Art of Happiness at Work” by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler takes a surprisingly refreshing look at the subject of work satisfaction. However, the Dalai Lama’s spiritual approach is well balanced by Cutler’s examples of recent social and occupational research.
While most of us would believe interest in this issue is restricted to the present work generation, psychologists and social scientists have been exploring the relationship between work satisfaction and life satisfaction since the 1950’s accumulating a mass of data linking happiness at work and overall happiness in life. In short, the literature does support the view that satisfaction with one’s work tends to make one happier overall, and those who are happy with their life tend to be happier at work.
In a 1997 study by Dr Amy Wrzesniewski, an organisational psychologist, she proposed workers could be generally divided into three distinct categories:
The first group simply views work as a job. For this group the focus is on the financial reward that work brings, while the nature of the work undertaken may hold little interest, pleasure or fulfilment. Given their prime concern is the wage, if there is a decrease in pay or if a higher paying role comes along, they are open to dropping the job and moving on.
The second group views work as a career, with the primary focus on advancement. These people are motivated by prestige, social status and the power that comes with titles and higher designations at work rather than the financial motivation. While there is likely to be a much greater personal investment in the job, if the promotions stop they start to become dissatisfied.
This dissatisfaction can see their interest in the job reduce and they may even seek new work.
The third group are individuals who do the work for the sake of the work itself and those who view work as a calling. In this group there is less separation between their job and the other aspects of their life. If they could, people in this group would if they could afford to, continue to do the work even if they didn’t get paid. Their work is seen as meaningful, having a higher degree of purpose, making a contribution to society or the world.
Naturally, those who view their work as a calling tend to have significantly higher work satisfaction, as well as overall life satisfaction compared with those who view work as a job or career.
The scientists propose, “Satisfaction with life and with work may be more dependent on how an employee sees his or her work than on income or occupational prestige.”
Wrzesniewski’s view is interesting in the context of sport management. In general terms sport management professionals do not enjoy high salaries and let’s face it, the hours worked and the level of recognition is less than other industry sectors. So, why is it that jobs in sport are so keenly contested with a regular supply of high quality candidates prepared to step into the industry?
Think about your own circumstances and ask yourself whether you could have or can earn more money working outside sport? The real questions are, given the opportunity would you want to and if you do, why haven’t you?
RM - Sportspeople Recruitment
First Published 2006.