The psychology of work is a subdivision of psychology that we can describe as the scientific study of human beings in the workplace. It concerns our relationship with work, its affects on personal wellbeing, and indeed, its broader social impact. It is the application of psychological principles to the behaviour of human beings in the workplace and includes aspects of social, cognitive, developmental, and individual psychology. The psychology of work also concerns the demands of the corporation and how it might obtain productivity from its employees.
We spend a very large portion of our adult lives in daily work. Therefore it warrants, albeit for the right reasons, psychological examination. However, it is corporations in the pursuit of commercial advantage and profit that carry out many investigations into the psychology of work. Organisations may say they care about their workers, however, their organisational responsibilities are first and foremost to their shareholders. Individuals care about other individuals, however, corporate demands often drive policy. Resultantly, the true care for the individual may be neglected. The era of social entrepreneurship may be changing this to a limited extent. However, I believe it is our individual responsibility to take command of our personal wellbeing rather than be reliant on entities with ulterior motivations.
How Do You Feel About Your Work?
Can you take 5 mins to tell me about the work you do and how you feel about it? I'm running this short survey to gauge my readers feelings about work and your responses will help direct the content I write.
The Wellbeing of The Person
The nature of the commentary here on The Performatist, is concerned with the wellbeing of the individual – the human being. It is not necessarily concerned with the needs and demands of the body corporate. In this introductory article, the focus is upon daily work – that for which we receive payment or other monetary compensation. Therefore, it encompasses a wide variety of professions and careers including both directly employment and self-employment. We are concerned with work as it relates to the person and groups of people and their feelings about it. The aim of the content is to, perhaps, offer you a clearer perspective on your relationship with your daily work and its role in an engaged and fulfilled life.
A Double Edged Sword
Daily work is sort of a double edged sword. It has the potential to bring out the best and the worst in us. We seem to either love it or hate it, and sometimes both emotional states exist at the same time. We are somehow compelled to work, it is a societal imperative, a fundamental requirement for social inclusion.
Don't, or can't work? Then you are a drag on society, an unfortunate scar on the face of an otherwise functional unit. We'll put up with you, but only because we wish to be “socially responsible”. Of course, that's not the outward politically correct view, but it is no less true in the minds of people.
“I work to live, I don't live to work”, as one respondent to a recent study I conducted on wellbeing in the workplace put it. Prior to the study, my personal unsubstantiated opinion had been that many people feel this way. The study results subsequently affirmed that opinion, at least for now.
Our apparent negative relationship with daily work comes from the idea that self-worth and value result from productivity. Perhaps we have allowed ourselves to become commodities, mechanisms of production in the larger machine of society.
Therefore, the investigations I undertake are to explore the psychology of work as it applies to the individual-at-work. Whether self-employed or in an organisation, my intent is to assist you form a meaningful relationship with your daily work. You may as a result, reconnect with its inherent value, and consequently, derive happiness from it.
Work is a source of social cohesion and material welfare; and for the individual it is often crucial to both mental and physical health.Peter Warr, Psychology at Work
Happiness & Unhappiness at Work
Peter Warr, Professor Emeritus in Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield said that happiness and unhappiness are central to human existence 1. Happiness is a sense of overall psychological well-being, a close relation of which are work-related well-being and job satisfaction. Daily work, and our feelings about it both influence, and in turn, are influenced by, overall life satisfaction. Consequently, job and life satisfaction are significantly and reciprocally related (Judge & Wantanabe, 1993) 2.
Professor Warr further suggested that daily work is a source of social cohesion, material welfare, and is critical to the mental and physical health of the individual.
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- Warr, P. (2019). The Psychology of Happiness (1st ed., p. 1). Oxford: Routledge.
- Judge, T. A., & Watanabe, S. (1993). Another look at the job satisfaction-life satisfaction relationship. Journal of applied psychology, 78(6), 939.