Making Ends Meet Isn't Enough Anymore 2023.02.03

We work hard to "survive" and try to earn enough to support and provide for our families. As technology advances, however, our motivation for working has evolved beyond merely getting by; we begin to pursue self-realization. Job selection criteria such as career advancement and the quality of life afforded by the job have also become important factors of consideration. According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook published by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD), among the 64 economies surveyed in 2021, employees in European countries are more highly motivated in the workplace, with Denmark scoring the highest (7.95), followed by Norway and Austria, in that order. Taiwan ranks fifth in the world with a score of 7.55, the only Asian country in the top five. None of Taiwan's neighboring countries and economic powerhouses such as the U.S., China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore are included in the top-ten list. In particular, Japan, whose workers have always enjoyed the reputation of being hard-working, fell unexpectedly to 28th regarding worker motivation, while South Korea took the rather disappointing 43rd place.

IMD's World Talent Ranking 2021 reports that factors other than the existing external ones, such as remuneration, quality of life and safety, can drive the flow of talent. These factors include organizational leadership, employee training opportunities, and the quality of life a particular country offers. In addition, in the context of the devastating pandemic, highly motivated and proactive employees are crucial to maintaining an organization's productivity. For this reason, the overall effectiveness and resilience of a country's health care system have also become an essential factor to consider when choosing a career. Harvard Professor of Business Administration Clayton Christensen proposed in his book How Will You Measure Your Life? that worker motivation can be broken down into hygiene factors, which include compensation, friendly working environment, job security, superiors' trust (these factors refer to the elements of work that, if not done right, will cause us to be dissatisfied); and motivation factors, which include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth. So it is not difficult to see that employees of nonprofits are passionate about their work despite the distinct possibility that they are underpaid. These motivation factors drive these workers to engage in meaningful and emotionally satisfying outcomes.

Even if the primary purpose of work is to survive, one should stop to think if simply making ends meet is all we want to accomplish in our lives. Maybe then we can begin to enjoy our work a little more.