Career Advice

Top 5 Reasons Why People Work (Besides Earning Money)  

We all want to be paid properly for what we do. It’s really a no-brainer to think that the main reason people work is to earn money. However, that’s not all people want. There really is more to life than money and more reasons for going to work every day. There are many reasons why people work. Here, I’m going to walk you through my top 5 reasons to work for a company.

“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.” – Stephen Hawking

So, besides earning money, why do people work? Let’s take a look.

1) For job satisfaction

If you browse Google Scholar’s results for job satisfaction statistics, this is a subject that’s been examined over and again. Some of the earliest reports go back to the 1970s. This is clearly a highly important factor in the reasons why people work.

More recently, Standout CV’s research found that “72% of millennials class “having a job with meaning” as the most important factor in their work.”

People want to feel good about their job. They want the satisfaction of a job well done. They want a job that does give them that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Without that sense of satisfaction, people are simply more likely to leave and look elsewhere. This is an important point for employers as well as employees. The cost of replacing top employees and training someone new is high. It is far better to work on employee satisfaction and have a higher retention rate and an excellent company culture.

On the list of reasons why people work, this has to be at the top. Of course money is a big factor. People want to feel that they are valued for what they do and paid accordingly. But when it comes to what makes people stay, job satisfaction really is the number one.

“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.” – Johnny Carson

But it’s not just about job satisfaction. Other factors do matter and make a difference in whether an employee is happy to work or not.

2) To put their skills and talents to use

This reason is very similar to job satisfaction. It is incredibly satisfying to have a job where you can use your skills and talents. Work comes easily. In fact, it doesn’t really feel like work a lot of the time.

If you’re playing to your strengths, you’ll feel far more motivated and be more productive. You’ll enjoy your job more and feel passionate about what you do.

However, it’s also good to have a job where you are allowed to learn, grow, and improve. Learning new skills and expanding your talents can be equally satisfying. You’re not stuck doing the same thing day in and day out. You can learn, expand what you’re capable of, and perhaps even seek promotion.

3) To Earn Respect

Part of working any job involves gaining respect from your peers and your managers. No one wants to feel that they aren’t appreciated and respected for the work they put in. No one wants to feel undervalued or that what they do doesn’t matter.

Gaining respect is a big part of the reasons why people work. It’s about gaining respect from other people, yes, but also about self-respect. If you know you’re doing your best and working hard at your job, you can feel good about yourself. You can gain an inner understanding that you are worthy of respect and that you matter.

According to Standout CV, “The most common reasons for feeling dissatisfied at work are; “feeling undervalued” and “lack of respect from management.””

Then there’s the wider societal aspect of respect. People like to feel useful. They like to feel that they’re doing something of value and that they are recognized for that, not just at work, but outside of it too.

“A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in your community.” -Joe Biden

4) The Social Aspect

There are two aspects to this reason:

Firstly, people want social recognition. They want to hear praise and affirmation from their managers and their peers. As above, with earning respect, they want to feel like what they do is valued and appreciated.

It’s highly motivating to receive regular recognition and praise for what you do. If this isn’t the case, it can be one of the reasons that people leave to find a different job.

“I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work.” Neil Armstrong

Secondly, there is a social aspect to work in that you get to spend time with other people. You may make friends at your job and spend time together outside of it. It’s important to have human connection and interaction. We are social creatures and we need that. Work can give us more than just something satisfying to do.

5) To Earn Responsibility

If you’ve ever suffered from being micro-managed, you’ll know how frustrating and debilitating that is. You don’t feel like you have any say in what you do or when you do it. You certainly don’t feel respected or that your manager thinks you can handle any responsibility.

Some people want to gain a promotion and become a team leader or manager themselves. They want the responsibility of managing a department and a team. This adds to their job satisfaction and, if done well, they will earn respect, too.

However, even if you don’t want to climb the career ladder, you very likely do want some amount of responsibility. You know your own strengths and weaknesses and you do want the chance to plan out your own week and manage your workload. It’s part of having a job and enjoying it.

Most people count responsibility somewhere in their reasons for working. Again, it goes back to job satisfaction.

Why do people work hard? Because they want all of the things I’ve talked about above. They want job satisfaction, recognition, social interaction, and respect for a job well done.

“True motivation comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction, and recognition.” – Fredrick Herzberg

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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