The other day one of our friends (seeing me spending more time at the university department) commented - 'Is University giving you some more salary'. I responded to his comment to the best of my ability and as per my personal thinking on 'work'. However later in the day I thought why he commented like that. Further it also kept me engaged in my thoughts throughout the day as to the basic premise of why do really people work. And with this motivation in mind I started searching for the answer as a student of organizational behavior.
Organizations are established in order to achieve organizational goal/s. As it is almost impossible for an individual to fulfill his/her individual goal, he/she joins an organisation. And if there is no such organization which can help an individual in achieving the goal, one starts an organization oneself. So what is clear is that individuals join organisations in order to achieve their individual goals. While individuals work in the organization of their choice there has to be a match between the goal of the organization and of the individual. Once that goal matches or fits both (individual and organisation), the performance of individuals as well as of the organization improves. And if at all there is a mismatch/misfit, the performance deteriorates. This is an ideal situation. However as people start working in an organization they start learning new things, they perform to the best of their abilities, they get paid as per the agreement or entitlement, they start comparing themselves with their counterparts within the organization or with their competing organisation or with any other organisation as well.
And through comparisons they get to learn two scenarios. One, others are working more (which includes putting more hours to work) than him, putting more efforts, and performing better and getting same or more salary. Two, others are working less (which includes putting less hours to work) than him, putting less efforts and their performance is relatively lower than him and they are getting same or less salary. There could be some more propositions like others working less, getting more, or working more getting less. It is also important to look into the nature of efforts people put. Anyways we intend to concentrate on the two scenarios viz., working more, getting same or more salary and working less, getting same or less salary. In case of marginal differences in all propositions as to efforts and salaries, it does not make much of a difference.
The question comes when there is much difference as to efforts and salary of others as compared to oneself (which is a reference point) and that is when one starts thinking why should he/she spend more time at work, why he/she should put more efforts, why he/she should be concerned about better organizational performance and growth. And that is when a thinking come to one’s mind that he/she is working for the organization and leads to a further thinking as if he/she is doing a favor for the organization through his/her performance, through his/her longer presence at the work place.
Organisations work for you or you work for organisation? Is it that individuals work for organizational goal only? The moment this feeling comes to mind that I am working for the organisation, the organization is gaining at my cost, I am contributing for the organizational growth, I am indispensable for the organization. This feeling leads to self destroying attitude. This blocks an individual from growing. One does not develop oneself. One stops thinking on personal growth. One does not learn new things. One tends to feel oneself as a great soul. One kills the urge for creativity and blocks the entry of innovative ways of doing the job assigned. One starts believing that whatever one does is for the organization so if organization gains, his/her compensation/salary is not going to change, hence why to go an extra mile, why to spend more time in the organization, why to put more efforts and perform better as one is not directly benefiting from this. This work attitude makes an individual complacent and slowly such individuals, as their tenure at their workplace starts increasing start feeling themselves out of place, outdated and at times it gives rise to their frustration and no-satisfaction or dissatisfaction state. This in result damages organizational image and destroys organizational culture.
As mentioned earlier primarily one works in order to fulfill one’s goal and chooses (or at times forced to choose) the organization. Hence it takes us to a position that while we work in an organization we do not do any favor to the organization rather we want to derive satisfaction ourselves, which is why we work. This is the focus that one needs to concentrate on. Every minute one spends at the workplace one grows, if one develops this thinking that one is doing the job for oneself and not for the organization one tends to develop an attitude to learn new things, one puts his/her more than hundred percent in order to fulfill the urge of learning, one keeps exploring new ways of doing the old things and as one’s tenure keeps increasing with the organization one adapts to newer challenges and successfully responds to the need of the hour. One feels if I don’t perform better tomorrow I am going to be outdated, out of place, I may not be able to follow the language of time.
I tend to believe what Adam Smith (1759) had mentioned in his classic book The Theory of Moral Sentiments and what Richard Dawkins (1976) narrates in The Selfish Gene about the natural behavior of individuals to be selfish. And for organizations if people/employees have this thinking that they are not really working for organisations rather organizations are working for them, they can really improve their work behavior and contribute their might to the best interest of the organization. Ultimately what else an organization wants whether one learns to believe in doing it for self or for organization.
As I look back at the scenarios (working more, getting same or more salary and working less, getting same or less salary), I really don’t care as far as I get the opportunity to grow better in the present organization. I don’t get into the comparisons either.
I must thank our friend for his comment. I can enjoy my over stay at the workplace sometime. As I grow, I learn; as I learn I develop; as I develop I contribute better; as I contribute better I get satisfied and as I get satisfied, it really makes me happy. Ultimately that is what for I work. If I get what I work for, I let both the ends meet. The ends have to meet, it is better to meet them with a thinking that we work for ourselves not really for organisations. This thinking also makes the organisations happy and leads them to achieve organisational happiness (Shrotryia 2006) through satisfied employees, who in turn bring satisfied customers, which also contributes for social good and it positively results in increasing the profitability of an organization.
Organizations work for us; we really don’t work for organisations!