a recent Gallup survey of 47,000 workers around the world which showed that that Australian workers are among the most dissatisfied in the world with only 18 percent of Australian respondents saying they are fully engaged in their work.“Compounding these results,” writes John Belchamber, “is the finding that almost two thirds of Australian employees are emotionally detached from their employer and only do the minimum amount of work to avoid getting dismissed. 20% of dissatisfied respondents describe themselves as ”actively disengaged” – disliking their organisation, hating their boss and being indifferent to their job. But rather than leaving their jobs, they’re spending their time spreading their negativity amongst others in their team’s.” At the bottom of the table: Singapore and China. A staggering 98 per cent of employees in those two countries admit they’re disengaged with their work, preferring to be doing something else somewhere else. Twenty-three per cent of the British and Kiwis are engaged, one in five Canadians are happy with their work, and in the US, surprisingly, 28 per cent of workers experience high rates of job satisfaction. Overall, the global average is 27 per cent.The problem of employee disengagement is now widely recognized. Its cost to the bottom line has been demonstrated. Actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line, while
breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates this cost to the bottom line to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.
Rather than making work productive perhaps it is time we abolished work, wage slavery that is, replacing it with another concept; play. Making work not about production but about our pleasure and happiness, rather than the drudgery we face day in day out, no matter how many happy managers we have telling us to be happy. The work we do is not satisfying our emotional and human needs, it is not playful or fulfilling, it is simply a way of paying the bills.
Or as Herr Doctor Marx once said communism means there is no contradiction between play and work since “nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes . . . to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic” (The German Ideology, Tucker, 160).
Of course there can be a downside to ending the work play divide.
It’s not so much what you do, or the money you make, but the level of satisfaction you have with your work and yourself that is of ultimate importance. Your level of job satisfaction carries into all other areas of your life, consciously or subconsciously.
But because most people’s mindset is “how can I work less and play more”, they live for the weekends, obsess about vacations, and dream of the day they retire. (I can’t tell you how many friends and family members I’ve seen fall into a major depression within months of retiring due to the shock that it doesn’t really fulfill their life’s dream) Their sole motivation for work is to not have to work anymore.
Work is work - whether you love it or not. A job is still a job and at it’s core it’s about making money for survival. And while I love what I do, if money was no object, I’d much rather be traveling with my wife, playing with my dog, or dominating 12 year olds in Call of Duty.
According to Frost and Klein (1979), play and work probably lie on a continuum.
However, play can be differentiated from work by defining their unique characteristics.
What makes play "play" and work "work"? Play has at least four fundamental qualities that distinguish it from work; it is designed primarily for its own enjoyment, it is controlled by the child, it has a dose of fantasy, and it is internally motivated.
Play is designed primarily for its own enjoyment. Typically, the process of play
is what is important, not the product. However, work is designed for a product. Work is engaged in for what may be gained as a result (Lefrancios, 1986).
The quality and quantity of play is controlled by the child (McKee, Play working
partner of growth, 1986). When the child decides that he or she no longer wants to play, all the adult encouragement cannot recover the play. However, work is controlled by others. In fact, if a child is required to continue to play even when he doesn't want to, it turns into work.
Work is typically designed for a product, controlled externally, based on reality,
and externally motivated. When a person is required to work, a product is usually
expected to stem from the work. Furthermore, this product is often judged by some
criteria as reflecting "good" work or "poor" work. The judging criteria is determined by some external "correct" model. Good work is reinforced, poor work is usually reprimanded.
Because work entails a product and a judgment, people can easily determine
whether change has taken place in the person’s behavior. Thus, if the product comes closer with the model, or the person produces more (i.e., quality and/or quantity increases) one can say behavior has changed or learning has taken place.
The influences of work is not always with a product. Work is also associated with
stress, ulcers, suicide, feigned illness, etc. It is interesting to note that as our schools have instituted more product oriented teaching, there has been an increase in the incidence of stress and other problems with children.
Has the time come to abandon the Protestant work ethic? As technology advances and the structure of work changes, Pat Kane suggests a different, more creative philosophy to suit the new era
DOES the devil necessarily make work for idle hands? The most momentous changes in the structure of employment are upon us: it is time we looked anew at our oldest prejudices. With the information age transforming all social co-ordinates, we should think about a replacement for the work ethic - in a world where work, as we know it, is evaporating before our eyes. I bid for the play ethic.
The objection to this is simple: how can you sustain a work ethic, when work itself is deconstructing before our very eyes? The massive shifts towards short-term contracts, part-time work, self-employment and manufacturing-to-services are well enough documented. Their causes - new technology, global competition, individualism - are recognised and accepted by most of us. And it is a standby of current social thought that the relentless automation of labour - mental and manual - is laying in store an unemployment problem of massive proportions.
Around 75% of the labour force in any industrial nation is doing little more than simple repetitive tasks, and is thus potentially automatable: less than 5% of companies round the world have begun to use new technologies fully in their workplace (an excerpt from Jeremy Rifkin's The End of Work).Intellectually at least, the case can be made for play's virtues. Psychologist DW Winnicott cited play as the "creation of personality" - that exciting sharing of self and world that make new ideas possible. The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga has called us Homo Ludens: in that exhaustive book, he states that "pure play is one of the main bases of civilisation". And in the sciences of complexity, play is regarded as the central process that brings order to the chaos of natural creation - in the words of biologist Brian Goodwin, "our creativity is essentially similar to the creativity that is the stuff of evolution".
According to Prensky, for Digital Natives "play is work and work is increasingly seen in terms of games and game play".21 This ethos has not gone unnoticed by some larger organizations, such as the American Army. The army has changed their approach to recruit instruction. Since the majority of the American army's recruits are between the ages of 18 and 22 and require wide- ranging training, the army has developed "an extensive array of gaming simulations"22 to help teach their recruits with great results.
But let's leave the last word to someone who understood the work play dialectic well, Mark Twain;
Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it–namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.Take This Job And Shove It