Are Your Interested In Your Work?

One of these days I am going to write a blog in which every paragraph has a word for the day. I downloaded an App that provides different words each day. I am doing this as an attempt to improve my vocabulary. Today’s word is exilic, which pertains to exile. Yesterday’s word was demesne, which refers to the owning of one’s own land. No one will ever accuse me of being a bibliophobe, someone who hates books. However, that will be another day, because today’s blog asks the question, are you interested in your work.

A recent Gallup poll surveyed 30,000 graduates, compared four categories of majors: business, social science and education, science and engineering, and arts and humanities; and discovered that business students are the least engaged in their work and not even the most economically secure.

I find this quite interesting, and a reality that reinforces my belief in a clear purpose behind business that does not include just money. “The poll, conducted in February and March, is part of a growing effort to tease out the value of different aspects of a college education.” The purpose behind this poll was not to measure economic success, but measured “how engaged graduates are in their work, how connected they feel to their communities, and whether they enjoy a sense of purpose in their lives.”

One question in particular caught my attention: “I am strongly interested in the work I do.” 37% of business majors agreed, which was a full six points behind the other major categories. The article I read this morning speculated that one reason for the job dissatisfaction among business majors was the lack of internships, which to me seems like a big leap, but the article does say that internship is highly correlated with job satisfaction. I am not too sure I agree with that one. However, I do agree with the second conclusion. “Business programs might be teaching textbook business but falling down when it comes to real applied learning experiences.”

Why are business students dissatisfied in their work? First I think we need to separate dissatisfaction from motivation. In this I agree with Herzberg. There are certain elements that Herzberg identified as creating job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Those things are company policies, quality of supervision, relations with others, personal life, rate of pay, job security, and working conditions. The above survey does not address these issues. Motivation on the other hand is related to the ability to achieve, advancement, personal growth, job interest, recognition, and responsibility. This survey does not address this either.

The survey creates more questions in my mind than answers, however, it does reinforce my belief about the purpose behind why we do business. I believe that business is a powerful force that can create positive social change. I believe it can do that without sacrificing the profit motive. I believe, and this is what I teach in my classes, that profit is not the primary focus of business. The primary focus of business is mission. Therefore doing the mission of the company creates a higher purpose than just doing it for profit.

Doing something just for money is an empty proposition, but meeting a need is something else. It creates purpose. The reason business students are not happy in their work is they have been taught how to generate profit, not how to create social value. If we train our students the technical aspects of business, educate them on how to ethical do business, and convince them of the higher purpose of to whom much is given much is required, I think we will have a much more satisfied workforce; if a student studies business and Warner Pacific College, that is what they will learn.

And that is my thought for the day.

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