Job Gratification vs. Job Reward – Will You Perform Meaningless Work for High Pay?

By: Gerald Goh

Picture this scenario: you’ve being offered a handsome salary (say for instance, over $7,000 per month) to perform one (and only one) task each day, five days a week, and your working hours are from 9am to 5pm.

What’s your task, you may ask? You simply have to move a desk from location A to a nearby location B in the morning. At the end of the day, before you can knock off, you have to move the desk from location B back to its original spot in location A. You have no other roles or responsibilities and, in addition to your lunch hour, you can do as you please throughout the day provided you remain in the office.

Would you take up this job?

Read the Fine Print
Sounds like a dream gig, right? For stressed-out office drones making less than half of the salary mentioned above, taking up the job offer above is probably a no-brainer – especially as you’d be free to WhatsApp or Candy Crush your day away without having to rack your grey matter at all.

But take a closer look at just what the job entails. You’re essentially being paid a pretty penny to do something that’s wholly meaningless – and what’s more, to add insult to injury, at the end of the day you have to undo every bit of it. On the whole, your professional contribution is virtually nil. Unless you’re a deadbeat pessimist, this can be incredibly soul-crushing.

The Need to Learn
The example listed above may have been taken to a logical extreme, but bear in mind that are plenty of individuals working in positions that are just as menial and/or meaningless.

Employees who find themselves working in these positions, even when it’s for a justified cause (e.g. to pay the bills), often find themselves bored and uninspired and continually looking for a way out. Psychological research has indicated that environments which lack creatively and/or intellectually stimulating aspects can cause depression and anxiety.

Work satisfaction may be an underrated factor, especially when compared to quantifiable rewards like salary and perks, but employees can gain an immeasurable reward from picking up new skills and insights from their work, not to mention the good feeling that comes from performing well in your job.

Nothing to Share
On a more indirect level, a stimulating and fulfilling job also provides you with many topics of conversation for the dinner. These can range from the latest office gossip to deep, meaningful insights you’ve gleaned at work.

Imagine that when you’re catching up with your friends after a hard day’s work, the conversation turns to your day jobs. And when your friends look at you expectantly, all you can say is, “I move a table.” You have no insights, experiences or observations to share – can you bear to face your friends, much less yourself?

Think about it.

Would you do meaningless work for high pay? Share with us in the comment box below!

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