Why We Work

Why We Work

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Originally, the TED series of talks was designed to promote ideas worth sharing in the fields of Technology, Education and Design. They became cultural pillars of information and branched out into TEDx talks, which are still branded under the TED logo but can be licensed by other organizations, such as universities or cities. The next proliferation of TED seems to be TED books. These small books take the ideas encapsulated in the 20-minute talks and expand them a little, but not into full book size. These TED books also provide further resources and talks on the TED site which might be of interest, and follow similar themes (potentially supporting or debating — it’s all about thinking and sharing ideas). 

Barry Schwartz’s TED talk is titled the same as the book (in case you wanted to look it up) and dispels the notion that we work for a paycheque only. Some people are paid rather well and despise their work. So clearly, there is more to this working stuff than just money — because otherwise, pay raises would make all of the unhappiness go away. Schwartz, who is a professor of psychology, has investigated why people work and his findings might surprise you as he negates much of traditional economic thought about individual behaviour and reward systems. This is a great companion to the TED talk, and is a recommended read for anyone trying to create meaningful reward and recognition systems that will engage and retain good workers. It’s amazing how long outdated myths about work have lingered — it’s time for a re-do.

Lisa Sansom