The way we think about work is broken

In this thought-provoking TED talk, Barry Schwartz contemplates – What makes work satisfying? Apart from a paycheck, there are intangible values that our current way of thinking about work simply ignores. It’s time to stop thinking of workers as cogs on a wheel.

Barry Schwartz discusses our motivation for work that we choose to do. Schwartz reveals exactly how the false idea that the goal for work should be pay came to be, how we came to believe that paying workers more leads to better work, and why this has made our society confused, unhappy and has established a dangerously misguided system.

This is an excerpt from his TED talk video –

“The very shape of the institution within which people work creates people who are fitted to the demands of that institution and deprives people of the opportunity to derive the kinds of satisfactions from their work that we take for granted.”

“We design human nature by designing the institutions within which people live and work.”

He digs deeper into motivation, our approach towards our profession/work and how it affects not only our quality of work, but also our quality of living and happiness. He also mentions how large majority of population is deprived of the fulfillment that meaningful work can offer. It is interesting to listen to his views about industrial revolution & Adam Smith as well. I was intrigued by this talk and quite impressed by his depth of research related to work, and that propelled me to procure his book Why We Work?. It is definitely worth watching this talk and pondering over our own reasons for our work!

Barry Schwartz is an American psychologist and he studies the link between economics and psychology, offering startling insights into modern life. He applies his research in psychology to current events and writes frequently in New York Times. I am reading his book titled ‘Why We Work?‘ currently and I will write a book review here once I finish reading this book.


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