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Somewhere, sometime, someday, somehow, you'll find them

- Danielle Steel, Bittersweet.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Working for Love or for the Money?

Something to wake up to
Do you wake up every morning and go to work for the money or because you love your job?
“Your work is gonna fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” 
Steve Jobs said the above in a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.

It is interesting why people work. Employers are keen to know if employees work just for the money. This makes it easier to know what would result in a more productive workforce other than higher salaries. CCM recently sought the views of entrepreneurs and employees to find out what in addition to remuneration, attracts people to the workplace.

Phoebe Cherotich, a banker, reckons that the paycheck is primarily what her job is for. “Whereas this is a sad but true reality, the ever rising inflation, bills and a family to raise does justify this,” she adds. “If I had the option to choose what to do, the  major determinant would be 'for how much?'”

For Esther Kamau, who works with an N.G.O. in Nairobi, work gives her a sense of self-fulfillment. “I like what I do and the company I work for. I also work for money, I support people through my income.”

Andrew Kiriti, Director of Bonjour Institute in Nairobi considers himself fortunate to have been on both sides of the divide, however you look at it.  “It's clear to me that most people work for money. At some point in my life I have found myself working for money too.” Asked if the need for more than money is the reason he left formal employment, he says: “It takes a conscious effort to get back to doing what one loves, even though it may not pay immediately.” Thus, many employees are largely motivated by money as a matter of circumstance, not preference.

Passion Over Profit
In July 2013, Forbes published an online article about doing what one loves in business. Aptly titled 'Passion Before Profit', following one's passion is identified as an essential entrepreneurial trait. Here, passion is defined as the intense compelling emotion, desire, and enthusiasm for something.

Such thinking, albeit ideal, is what informed these timeless words by Whit Hobbs:
"Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, wherever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there's something out there you love to do, that you believe in, that you're good at —something that's bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again today."

Between being motivated purely by money and doing something one is passionate about and good at, what is more rewarding?
“What is more fulfilling is to do something you enjoy that is so rewarding you can even forget to ask for pay.  It is rewarding emotionally and the emotion is what keeps you going.” Phoebe says.
Esther on the other hand, has a slightly different take. “I just want to do something that makes a difference. I need not be passionate about it, just being useful is rewarding enough for me.”

The money one earns and what one feels earning it are not mutually exclusive. “It is without a doubt more fulfilling in the long run to do what one loves, but the initial stages of doing what one loves can be very disheartening as these times are rarely financially rewarding.” Andrew says. “The inverse is true for those who choose money over passion, as the initial stages are quite rewarding (financially), but the level of emotional fulfillment diminishes over time as one seeks a purpose to their existence.”

Emotional Needs and Self-fulfillment
Writing about Emotional Needs in the book 'How to Win in the Coming Jua Kali Boom', Samuel Wamae offers interesting insights. Even if the financial gain from a job is taken as a material need, it coexists with emotional needs present in every individual.

These needs are difficult to deal with. To illustrate, an employee may walk into a manager's office and ask for a salary increase. The employee may need respect from the same manager but however much he may feel the need for respect, he will not walk into the manager's office and say “I want respect.”
It is for this reason that few people, if any, will accept to be digging holes all day and later filling them up, in the name of a job just because there is pay.

When people find themselves at the junction of work and life, it would be priceless for every manager or company to realize that man does not live on bread alone, that every employee needs to feel that his existence is not in vain.
A key aspect of emotional needs is that they need to be continually met. Someone who feels respected today still needs the respect tomorrow and the day after.

Getting the most out of workers
Many entrepreneurs are naturals at loving what they do. For employees however, management needs to consider both the material (financial) and the often overlooked emotional needs of workers. A high salary in itself does not translate to a highly motivated employee. A job should be challenging as well as fulfilling. The workplace should maintain an ethical and transparent culture.

How best can employees be motivated to love their jobs?
Phoebe says that employees are motivated by both good remuneration and incentives, which usually keep them loyal.  She is however quick to add that career progression is another motivator. Even with a regular salary increment, it becomes disheartening if an employee retains the same position in a company for ages.

“Definitely! Higher packages are a motivation.” says Esther, with a smile. “If employees can have a sense of the value they add to the organization, this could also be a motivating factor.”  That is why employees may be offered shares to give them a sense of ownership of the company.

Andrew  gives more depth to Esther's assertion of value addition both to the company and to the employee's personal life. He says, “Over my years in entrepreneurship, I have come to learn that much as money is an important motivator, employees react much better to having a keen understanding as to WHY they do what they do, why their work is important and knowing that they are a key ingredient to the overall success of the company.”
Man's search for meaning cannot be gainsaid even in the workplace. It thus goes without saying that an employee would also want to know what is in it for him or her, as previously highlighted by Phoebe. “Employees are also keen on personal development and management should create avenues to help staff improve themselves.” Andrew adds.

In sum, people do have other needs in addition to making money at the workplace. These needs are emotional in nature and need to be continuously met. Respect,  encouragement, justice, kindness, courtesy, self-worth, purpose and meaning are just but a few of those needs.