Redefining why and how we work

Alternet has published an article by Steven Rosenfeld about a Gallup poll indicating that 70% of American workers are emotionally disconnected from their work and another 18% are actively disengaged meaning that they sabotage their co0workers and managers.

Rosenfeld wrote, “It’s zombieland out there for the American workforce.”

According to the article, the poll revealed that educated young men, and low-wage service  sector workers where the least satisfied at work. Women, and people at the beginning and end of their work tend to be more satisfied..

Job satisfaction  is a complicated issue. Educated young men have high expectations and are probably bored . We educate people and at the same time, de-skill jobs so that workers are more easily replaceable. This is a tactic employers use to refuse demands for better wages.

Women are socialized to put others ahead of themselves. People at the beginning of their work lives have that bright-eyed enthusiasm of the young; they  aren’t jaded yet. People at the end of their work lives  may be looking at the past as better than it was. They may not do  and say anything that would make them appear dissatisfied when they are so close to collecting their pension, or dare not appear dissatisfied for fear of losing their jobs and not being able to get a new one at their age. A comfortable retirement will be a rarity among Baby Boomers as most of them have $30,000 or less in their retirement accounts.

One of the major misconceptions  that I have found people have about demonetization is that I am advocating a system in which most people will not work and they will expect those who do work to give them stuff (the takers vs makers Republican-Conservative view of current social safety net programs), or that all work will become automated, leaving people to be like the human characters in the movie Wall-E, fat, boneless and sitting in lounge chairs guzzling fast food–aren’t there some people who do that now?–or that no one will do scut work because there will be no pay.  (Let’s just overlook the fact that most of the worlds scut work is done by the lowest paid workers or unpaid people, largely women.)

What about the role money, or the lack of it in a monetized society, plays in job satisfaction? The poll gave us a hint: low pay is a factor in emotional disengagement. (The ratio  of physical  effort to pay is probably a factor). When you are working a job  just to make money to pay the bills, and especially if that job was the only one you could get at the time, you are less likely to be satisfied than if you were working a job that gave you a sense of mission, of purpose. In a demonetized society, everyone would have the opportunity to do some work, because the scarcity of jobs created by the lack of money to fund them would not exist. People would be able to take more time off from social production i..e. work for others beyond your family because the need to keep producing to keep the market alive because you have to keep making money will be gone.  People will be able to work for the two legitimate reasons there are for working:  To deepen our human experience and to create the goods and services we need as individuals and as communities. only the ones we need to use. Not the ones needed to make money.

What about you? Are you satisfied with your job? Would you work in the same field if money were no object? If not, what would you do? Are you one of those people for whom making money IS your prime goal? How, if at all, would you find satisfaction in work without that (presumably big) paycheck?

[Image courtesy of Images for Free at]


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