Provocative question, right? With the Government Shutdown now over, we can reflect on the various sets of circumstances workers were faced with – Federal employees, Federal contractors, workers whose business suffered indirectly.
If you know you will get back pay and you are ordered to work, it appears to be almost a no-brainer although there seemed to have been many in this situation who called in sick. That’s just considering the pay issues. As they say in Compensation studies, jobs have Extrinsic Motivation (Pay & Benefits) and Intrinsic Motivation (Satisfaction). There were reports and interviews about government workers who were going to work primarily out of a sense of responsibility – this is Intrinsic Motivation. I thought government workers were supposed to be this unmotivated lot, collecting checks on the taxpayers’ dime? Turns out, no such generalizations are fair. Among TSA Agents, IRS workers, Air Traffic Controllers, National Park workers and others, there are surely many who find purpose in their work. Would they work for extended periods for free if there was no promise of back pay? That’s another question altogether.
There are people who have told me over the years that they would work for free – not many – but some – and I believe them. In a sense, this is the measure by which we can define our dream job. Would we do the work for free if we didn’t need the income? That’s the work that we ought to seek. Obviously that is not possible for everyone, but neither should we give up easily and assume that it’s not possible to find work that is that energizing and fulfilling.
I now do several kinds of work: HR Consulting, Life Coaching, Career Counseling, Wedding Officiant & Counselor to Engaged Couples, Writer. Some of my work I enjoy so much that I would do it for free, and I do sometimes. I hope to do more of that work. More on this in future posts.