Do You “Work to Live” Or “Live to Work?”

“Would you keep your job even if you won the lottery?” CIGNA released results from a contracted study* in February, 2009 addressing these questions to produce some unexpected participant responses. The purpose of the study was to understand views of disability insurance plans. However, broader questions related to “why people work” with results broken out by age and sex unveiled some revealing conventional employee beliefs.The questions’ responses were broken down into two clusters: the “work to live” and the “live to work” groups. 65% of the respondents said that they “live to work,” while only 35% answered they “work to live.” The survey then drilled down within each subset to learn some unanticipated, widespread employee beliefs.In the “live to work” cluster, 71% of women replied that they “live to work” versus 59% of men. 23% of women said that they would keep their job even if they won the lottery, compared to 20% of men with the same response.Other reasons the “live to work” include:* They get a sense of satisfaction from going to work each day* Their job is “great,” it gives their life structure and purposePeeling back the layers from the “live to work” respondents to ask them “Why do you enjoy your job?,” 33% of women said that they “like the people they work with/meet interesting people. Only 21% of men claimed this as their primary reason for living to work.Instead, the men were proud of their work (26%) and had a sense of accomplishment about their job (25%), liking to get things done. 25% of women also responded that they had a sense of accomplishment about their job. This primary distinction between men and women participants highlights the importance of social interaction present in the workplace, particularly for women.Even in this economic downturn, fewer employees work only for a paycheck. Employees seem to truly enjoy the work that they do, rather than just “working to live.” Men (40%) are more likely than women (28%) to say that they “work to live”, and feel stuck in their job because of the economy.A couple of the study’s results weren’t quite as unexpected. Not surprisingly, 41% of younger employees said that they “work to live.” The study’s results showed that older workers get more satisfaction from their jobs. These responses follow suit with what we know to be true about the different generations in today’s workplace and their perspective on work/life balance.And, most employees have noticed a declining change in mood in the workplace over the last six months. Of those who reported a difference (60%), approximately one third said that “people are nervous about losing their job and/or feeling more pressure.” But 38% said that they have NOT noticed a difference in mood at work, a surprisingly positive response given the country’s overall dark outlook during the bottom of this recession. Kudos to the many employers who’ve maintained a stable workplace and mood during troubled times!Which camp are you a member of: do you “work to live” or “live to work?” Hopefully, you’re in the group that truly enjoys what you do to make a living. If not, maybe it’s time to proactively begin repositioning yourself so that you can find a new job or career when the economy rebounds. You spend about one third of your life at work; why not do something that firmly places you in the “live to work” camp?* Yankelovich, a part of The Futures Company, conducted a survey among American employees on behalf of CIGNA. To learn more about the survey, click here:

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