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New Work: Which work values are important

The fact that the working world is changing rapidly is nothing new. Just 20 years ago, probably nobody would have imagined it would actually be possible to work for an agency in Zurich from the beach in Bali.

Why are we actually working?

But that’s not all - robotics and artificial intelligence are also massively expanding the spectrum of possibilities and promoting new opportunities. And for a long time, the idea remained that robots and AI would eliminate unwanted work and allow us to concentrate on the more exciting tasks - or not have to go to work at all and “finally be able to do what we want to do”. However, not having to work will not increase joy, but rather cause anxiety - for various reasons. On one hand, this behaviour is explained by economic rationality, i.e. that work is the source of income, prestige and social security. For Hartmut Rosa, professor of theoretical sociology at the University of Erfurt, this idea falls too short . He is convinced that work also involves a variety of sources of resonance. For example, we get reactions from customers to the products we deliver or are praised by colleagues for the presentation.

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Wörwag and Cloots deliver similar results in their study on New Work : “Cohesion in a community” was reported as the most important work value with 86% among others. And right after that, “social security for the family” followed with 83% - although there are of course differences in preference depending on age and gender. For example, women were more likely to cite “social security for the family” and “cohesion in a community” as important work values, while men tend more towards the values “getting ahead and building prosperity” and “overcoming challenges”. But the most important reason why we go to work is “self-realization and development”.

Only half of the employees can realize themselves in their work 

Theo Werner, an industrial psychologist, also confirms this in an interview with Die Zeit . As he rightly points out, identification with the profession plays a major role throughout all social classes. After all, employees who identify with their profession - and are thus appreciated - are also the most satisfied.Well, that’s not surprising, actually. When you turn the tables and ask the heretical question, who can really be satisfied with a job that you don’t really think much of? Thus a job that doesn’t serve any purpose for yourself?

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For Werner, that would probably be the fewest - because most people are even prepared to accept losses of money and social status if they consider their job to be meaningful. So if you can identify with your work, you are more likely to be able to realize your own potential. But although eight out of ten people - regardless of age - wish to fulfil themselves and be fulfilled in their work, this wish is only realised at every second employer.

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