We wanna be together, say UK workers

Apparently the benefits of work go far beyond the monthly pay cheque. Who'd have thought it?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

When 2,000 UK workers were asked to name the main benefits of their job, nearly three-quarters plumped for having money to pay the bills. No surprise there, we hear you say. But more interestingly, 42% said that work made them feel better about themselves, and the same proportion said it was about making a useful contribution to society. So clearly we expect to get more than just financial rewards out of our time in the office – which means that employers can’t just rely on big fat salaries to keep their staff happy…

The survey, which was conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions (so let’s hope none of these people handed over any personal details), also turned up some other interesting reasons why people go to work. About a quarter said it was about being a good role model for their kids (going to work might mean you see them less, but it least it indoctrinates them with good habits), while a third said working in a team was a major benefit – indeed, 80% reckoned that having a laugh with their colleagues can turn a bad day into a good one (no word on whether the other 20% thought the reverse was true).

The DWP suggests that lots of us see work as an emotional support system, which we’re sure you’ll agree is a lovely thought. According to Government minister Stephen Timms: ‘Being in work means being part of a community, which brings with it a feeling of being supported and understood. After all, who can identify with your daily ups and downs better than the people you see every day of the week?’ Obviously speaking from bitter experience there – although it’s rather bitter-sweet, given that his party’s chances of still being in the job this time next year are looking slimmer by the minute.

The other point about work is that it contributes hugely to our sense of self, as we know. In fact, the survey found that 21% of men would introduce themselves to strangers with reference to their job – so it would come before both marital status and children (both 17%). As Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist at Lancaster University says: ‘The findings show that working, whatever job you do, can contribute to an individual's self esteem and sense of 'status'... And this positivity in turn can have a direct impact on our happiness, our mental and even physical wellbeing.’

So next time your boss decides to spend your pay rise on a team-building activity instead, you can relax in the knowledge that it’s really for your own good...

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We wanna be together, say UK workers

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