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Work Should Not Be Hell

Posted by Insightlink on 09/10/15

What gets you up and out of bed and off to work every day?

For some of us the work we do is challenging, engaging, stimulating, meaningful and it might even be important. Many employees would say they love their jobs so much that what they get paid is secondary. But work for the majority of people has none of these characteristics. Just think about the people whose work is monotonous, meaningless and soul-deadening. These are workers who get up and head off to factories, call centers and warehouses where the only reason they do what they do is for pay. As many would say, what other reason is there?

In a recent TED Talk Barry Schwartz suggested Adam Smith, the father of the industrial Revolution for creating this situation saying Smith, “was convinced that human beings were by their very natures lazy, and wouldn't do anything unless you made it worth their while, and the way you made it worth their while was by incentivizing, by giving them rewards. That was the only reason anyone ever did anything”. Smith, the guy who gave us this incredible invention of mass production said of people who worked in assembly lines “He generally becomes as stupid as it is possible for a human being to become”.

Harsh words and a harsh attitude towards workers.

Today workers continue to do these monotonous jobs but studies have shown that they don’t have to be life-sucking and can actually be made to be rewarding and meaningful. In a recent study 1500 factory workers were followed over 7 years in 12 factories across multiple countries and there was a significant correlation found between worker engagement, productivity and how well workers felt informed.

Communication makes all the difference.

 The CSR study revealed that “most productive factories had fantastic communications with unions and/ or committees, regularly updated well-kept notice boards, on-boarding programmes and/or big sister programmes to support new workers, and more”
The study found that the correlation between job satisfaction and pay flattens out quite fast, and the correlation is far stronger for good communication with workers increasing worker retention and reducing worker turnover.


Ways to enhance communication were found to include:

  1. Honest dialogue
  2. Becoming transparent about true wages and hours
  3. Ownership of issues
  4. Enthusiasm to study root causes to continuously improve
  5. Emphasize wage compliance

In conclusion, work doesn’t have to be all bad even if the tasks themselves are not glamorous. But this takes a commitment from senior management to make it happen. In his speech Schwartz quoted the distinguished anthropologist, Clifford Geertz saying “hat our human nature is much more created than it is discovered. And one way we design it is by designing the institutions where people live and work”. This means that the people who run organizations can design better places….if they want to.

Wanting to design a better work place begins with an employee survey. How else can you learn what your employees are thinking and feeling unless you ask them? Using an anonymous employee survey such as the one we have carefully crafted, is the first step to learning if employees feel satisfied and engaged at work and the foundation for action planning and change. With the commitment to change and improve working conditions, there is no limit to how this shift will impact increased productivity, retention, and morale.




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Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.

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