People really do want to work

Published 10:28 am Friday, September 26, 2014

by Bob Holt

Believe it or not people, deep down in their being, really do want to work. Numerous studies over many decades have proven that fact over and over.

Work is a natural part of life. We have to work to live. Work provides individuals and families the funds necessary to support basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. While pay and benefits are important, they do not necessarily produce effective and happy employees.

Think about the people you know who are respected for the quality of their work. They tend to be happy and enjoy coming to work each day. They are confident and have a smile on their face. They are content because they are ambitious, creative, self-motivated, and typically free to solve problems.

They exercise self-control and self-direction. They actually seek and accept additional responsibility when the need arises.

Managers and supervisors of highly productive employees have created and maintained a climate of trust and open communication. There is a minimal gap in the superior/subordinate relationship. Decision-making is shared.

Writing in 1959, management scientist Frederick Herzberg theorized that certain conditions must be met before employees will become motivated. The workplace itself must be comfortable and safe, organizational policies must be fair and reasonable, success must be recognized, and pay and benefits must be competitive. If these are in place, and if managers are properly trained, then workers will seek achievement, responsibility and advancement.

The uncertain and changing economic factors the U.S. has experienced over the last decade have taken away the satisfaction a great deal of workers had in going to work and earning a comfortable living. It is hard to work when jobs are unavailable. Unfortunately, we have conditioned an increasing segment of our citizens that the need to work is no longer a requirement to live successfully. Beginning in the 1930s, during the 1960s, and finally in the last few years, we have relied on government programs to provide the benefits of work without the work requirement. There is simply little incentive to seek work when you receive the same benefits for not working.

If the U.S. is to maintain itself in future years, creating jobs and minimizing government assistance must occur. Good paying middle class jobs with benefits such as those provided by International Paper before the shutdown of the mill must be created by the private sector. It is the only way out of this funk we have been in for several years now.

Jobs will provide not only money for living expenses but also a means for workers to experience the satisfaction of working and making a contribution to their families and communities.

ROBERT N. “BOB” HOLT a Franklin native, is a retired professor of business management and real estate at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, N.C. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies degrees from Virginia Tech, and was a member of the university’s Corps of Cadets. His e-mail address is