Why We Work

Recently, I have had two women share with me that they know they are not making the most money they can for their job, their skill, and their experience.  Both women know this but are not motivated to change the compensation nor to explore the possibility to change jobs.  One woman is the sole financial provider for her family who needs additional money.  Both women state (separately) that:

  • she has been with the company for a good period of time
  • she likes her coworkers and considers many friends
  • she enjoys the work
  • she knows what to expect
  • she is comfortable
  • she is treated well by management

The only problem is the pay.

My question to both women is why do you work? Most of us have heard that we should work at something that we love.  We work to be useful.  We work to be happy.  We work to socialize.  All of this is true however,  one item trumps all the others.  We work to survive and pay the bills.  Only after the ability to pay for housing, food, clothing, education, healthcare, entertainment, socializing, travel, and savings for raining days and retirement do we start to think of work in the terms of happiness, socializing, etc.

Ask any of the millions of people who have been laid off during the past few years why they want to work. Their primary concern will be financial.  Everything else becomes secondary.  You may rediscover ways to obtain the other items when not working.  Volunteering can give you a purpose while socializing and make you happy.  A hobby can keep you entertained whether done with others or alone.   Either or both could be something that you love.  Finding these types of outlets while job hunting can become very important.  The one item neither a hobby nor volunteering can address is financial.  So above all else we work to earn money.

The next time you start to list all the reasons to continue working for a lower salary than the job is worth.  Stop.  Count to 10.  Then ask “Isn’t money the main reason why I work?”  If it is, go talk to your manager about your salary.  If you can’t earn the going rate for the job then it’s time to start looking for other places to work.

© Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited