Work is one of the most basic of all human institutions. It not only has a survival value but also other equally important factors like philosophical, moral, religious, political and psychological functions.
If you ask your friend, why do you work?
He/she will say “for the salary”. If that is the reason why does a homemaker works for 8 to 10 hours a day for which he or she is not paid? Why does a rich person work in a voluntary organization? Why does a person resign a job and takes up another job with less pay? So the term work may be defined as “an activity that produces something of value for other people.”
In the modern society, work is an activity that takes a major portion of the time of most adults. Though the type of work and hours per week may change, most people can anticipate spending about 30 to 40 years working. So this is one of the major means of life which calls proper adjustment for a healthy and happy living.
Changing attitude towards work.
Each individual wants to work. But the views of work differ from one person to another, from one society to another, one generation to another etc. The views toward work may change over time in the same person also.
There are certain wrong notion about work. For some, it gives an image of toil, effort, energy sapping activities that one must do. For some others, it is something few people do willingly that everyone would prefer other activities if it weren’t for financial necessity. Of late, our views, of work has changed considerably. People do realize that they can enjoy the work.
When you talk to a person who is retired he/she will say that the work atmosphere has deteriorated, the youngsters do not work, they are lazy etc. If you ask younger person who is working, he/she would disagree with this view. Instead their argument would be that I have spent more time and money to acquire the knowledge and skill and I need a proper return for it. There is some logic in both arguments.
No individual says that he or she does not want to work. It only reveals that the attitude toward work is changing. The older person is more concerned with doing a service to the society when the younger one is more concerned with the personal development.
We have to note one significant change in the attitude toward work. There is a widespread attitude among the youngsters that hard work does not always pay off. This probably may be due to the wide gap between the jobs available and the number of aspirants. Another significant change is that people nowadays seek psychological satisfaction in their work.
What do people look for in job?
A simple answer for this might be that it depends on the person. Though this may be true, majority of people seem to converge on some factors. A study by Daniel Yankelovich (1976) showed that about 70% of people prefer a work that is ‘interesting’ and one with friendly helpful coworkers. ‘Close to this come’ opportunity to use your mind and ‘work results you can see’, Good pay gets only a 5th rank. Blue collar workers place greater emphasis on money while professionals put less emphasis, white collar workers fall in between these two.
Another study with college freshmen gives the following five as top criteria for job satisfaction interesting to do, uses skills and abilities, good chances for advancement secure future and tangible results. From this we understand that money is not the only criterion of work. of course, it is one of the major determinants.
Some psychological functions must be discussed
- Sense of personal fulfillment. In any walk of life, people have a drive to grow and learn new skills and accomplish something worthwhile. People seek such opportunities in their work too. If a job does not provide opportunity for such a need, the person may not be happy with the job.
- Personal identity. Imagine a situation in which someone ask you ‘who are you’ and you respond that ‘I am an executive’ in a company. This is not surprising because a person spends vast amount of time and energy for his/her job. So work is one of the more salient means of identifying one’s self in the complex changing and fragmented society
- Self-esteem. A related aspects of personal identity is self-esteem. The work helps in self-evaluation. work provides opportunities for mastering self and the environment. The person gets a continual feedback regarding one’s ambition to perform well. Work also can provide a sense that one is valued by society that one is doing something which needs to be done which is valued by others. If one takes pride in the quality and significance of one’s work, self-esteem is enhanced.
- Prevention of boredom. A person on the day of retirement feels sad why? One reason could be that he or she has lived a long life with the job. Another important reason is the question “How to spend the time from tomorrow?” He or she is worried that it would be boring without a job though many of us may not admit if we work partly to avoid being bored.
- Status and approval. Sociologists seem to believe that one of the major determinants of status in our society is occupation. The whole family takes pride in the occupation of the head of the family. It is the work that to a large extent regulate our time, interpersonal contact and life experiences.
It should also be noted that unemployment and forced retirement at an arbitrary age can have an impact on one’s identity and work, ultimately affecting one’s mental health.
Does gender difference concern women’s career or work path? Is today’s workplace essentially the same for women as it is for men?
Important gender differences remain when it came to career choice and development. For one thing, most women still subordinate their career goals to their husbands. This is even the case with academically gifted women. If a married man wants or needs to move to another job, his wife typically follows him and takes the best job she can find in the new location. Hence, married women usually have less control over their career than married men do. The high divorce rate means that many women will have to provide for themselves and their children. One study reported that after a divorce, the woman’s standard of living drops 27 percent. Today’s women need to take these factors into account as they consider their career Options.
Another gender difference concerns career paths. Men’s Career paths are usually continuous, whereas women’s tend to be discontinuous. In other words, once men start working full time, they usually continue to work. Women are more likely to interrupt their careers to concentrate on childrearing or family crises. Still, because women are having fewer children and are returning to work sooner, the amount of time they are out of the work is decreasing. Research says that work discontinuity is a factor in women’s lower salaries and status, while others fail to find a “family penalty” women who do not have a children usually remain in the work and tend to have a pattern of career advancement.
Work is an activity that produces something of value for others. Recent years have seen a dramatic upsurge in the number of females in the workplace. Is today’s workplace essentially the same for women as it is for men? In many respects, the answer appears to be NO. Although job discrimination on the basis of gender has been illegal for more than 30 yrs, women continue to face obstacles to occupational success, as evidenced by recent court decisions that found few of the MNC guilty of sex discrimination. Foremost among these obstacles is job segregation. Jobs are simultaneously typed by gender. Most women tend to be concentrated in female dominated jobs where there is little opportunity for advancement or increase in salary. Workers in female dominated fields typically earn less than employees in male dominated fields, even when the jobs require similar levels of training, skill, and responsibility.
Still, more women are entering higher status occupations, even it at a low rate. Unfortunately, they still face discrimination because they are frequently passed over for promotion in favor of men. This seems to be a problem especially at higher levels of management.
When there is only one woman in an office, she becomes a token or a symbol of all women community; Tokens are more distinctive than men. Distinctiveness makes a person’s actions subject to intense scrutiny, stereotyping, and judgments. Thus if a man makes a mistake, it is explained as an individual problem. When a token woman makes a mistake, it is seen as evidence that members of female community are incompetent. Hence, women experience a great deal of performance pressure, an added source of job stress. Interestingly, if women are perceived as being “too successful” they may be labelled “workaholics” or may be accused of trying to “show up” members of that community. These unfavorable perceptions may be reflected in performance appraisals. The performance of successful men is less likely to be interpreted in these negative ways. Another way the world of work is different for women is that they have less access to same gender or same group role models and mentors. Finally, sexual harassment is much more likely to be a problem for working women than for working men. Women face discrimination on the job in a number of forms. Negative feelings about affirmative action prompt some to automatically assume that all women co workers have been hired only because of their gender. Obviously, these assumptions can be quite harmful to an employee’s success. For instance, several studies have demonstrated that attaching an affirmative action label to an employee results in negative attribution and perceptions of incompetence. The good news is that this potential negative effect can be eliminated when people know that decisions are based on merit as well as on group membership.
Women before you enter the working world, it’s important to get your bearings women either should make her work a way to earn a living OR a way of life. And make yourself aware of six important trends:
- Technology is changing the nature of work. Digital workplace demands more education and skills than were previously required, so keep upgrading yourself in terms of technology skills.
- New work attitudes are required. In the new work environment the key to job success are self direction, self management, up to date knowledge and skills, flexibility, and mobility.
- Lifelong learning is a necessity. Workers who know “how to learn” will be able to keep pace with the rapidly changing work place and will be highly valued. Those who cannot will be left behind.
- Independent workers are increasing. Just thrive on contract work which have freedom, flexibility and high income. But for this you need to have skills and entrepreneurial spirit. Lack of this may cause risk and stressful work experience and that’s why many employees prefer to work for someone else than to work for themselves.
- The highest job growth will occur in the professional and service occupations. Yesterday’s jobs were in manufacturing, construction, agriculture and mining. Now among the professional occupations, jobs in the computer and health care industries, in education (at all levels), social services, and business services.
Women must move and look beyond gender differences in their career or work.
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