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Why Work?

Why do people work? Is it just for money? Or because they are gen-

uinely interested in what they do? Or because they would be bored if

they did nothing? Or because they like working with other people? Or

because they take pride in doing something better than other people?

All these questions are important for business. If people did not work,

the business world and the whole economy would collapse overnight. So

business must try to understand why people work and provide the right





motivation, such as money or interest to make them work more keenly

and efficiently.

One of the main reasons for working is money. How many people

would work if they did not get paid? Basically people work to get enough

money to satisfy their basic needs for food, water, shelter, clothes and

warmth. Even when those needs have been met, money still remains

a strong motivation, as it buys the luxuries that most people cannot af-

ford – a country mansion, a Rolls Royce, a diamond necklace.

Money is rarely the onlymotivation! People want more out of work

than that. Some people, but not all, would prefer to do any kind of job

rather than sit idly at home. They would miss the company of theirwork-

mates. Thesense of affiliation, of having friends, of belonging to a group,

is a strong motivation for all kinds of working people. Businesses can use

this personal need to motivate thework force by: providing company uni-

forms or overalls, organizing company entertainments and sports events

providing free company trips for employees – and sometimes their wives

or husbands too, producing a company newsletter or magazine, forming

working groups in the factory, so that the members feel part of a team.

Asense of security is another basic human need for most people. Un-

til recently, many businesses in both the private and the public sectors

provide jobs for life. Employees knew for certain that there was very little

possibility of their losing their job and that annual increases in their sal-

ary were guaranteed. When they retired, the company provided them

a pension.

That kind of security has gone, even in the civil service. The great-

est security most people can now obtain is having a job while millions

of others do not. Even so, businesses can still increase their employees’

sense of security to a certain extent by providing good pension schemes,

providing sick-pay schemes and private healthcare, giving priority to

promoting company employees when job vacancies occur, making sure

that the work force knows of any changes in company policy or working


Another strong motivation for people is a sense ofself-importance.

Everyone likes to feel important, but these people want to feel much

more important than others. Money in the form of large salaries or big

expense accounts is one way in which this need can be met and another

is by offeringfringe benefits, such as company cars ranging up to Rolls-

Royces and other luxury extras.

Some people can become almost entirely dependent on company

approval. To gain more and more approval they becomeworkaholics,

unable to stop themselves working and perhaps putting in 16 hours or

more a day.




Job satisfaction – a sense that your work is worth while, that you

are doing something you really want to do and using all your skills and

creativity – is just about the hardest thing to get from work. Low income

and job satisfaction don’t always go together. Many sports people, pro-

fessional and self-employed persons get a large amount of job satisfac-

tion and a much higher income.

Finally, there is a group of people who work outside the mainstream

economy,on the borders of legality.The shade economy is growing fast,

encouraged by the high rate ofunemployment. Itstotal turnover is esti-

mated at billions of pounds, all of ituntaxed!

1. What is the main reason for working?

2. Explain how a sense of self- importance can motivate people at


3. Define job satisfaction. Give two examples of people who obtain it.

4. What do members of your family and other people you know ob-

tain from work apart from money?


Text 2

Read the text and identify the problems discussed in it. Be ready to answer the ques-

tions given below.


Most manual workers receive wages calculated on an hourly basis,

e.g. Ј5.50 an hour. Non-manual white-collar workers receive salaries,

calculated for the whole year, e.g. Ј12,000 a year. Although there are still

big differences between wages and salaries and the ways in which they

are paid, there have been some major changes in the last few years.

· Although some manual workers are still paid in cash, since the U.K.

1986 Wages Act employers have the right to pay all new manual workers

by cheque. (This was done to reduce wage robberies.)

· Wages used to be lower than salaries, but many manual workers now

earn more than office workers. Some, with overtime, earn more than

their salaried supervisors and a few earn more than some professional


· Unions used to be concerned mainly with negotiating wages. They

now negotiate salaries for many white-collar workers too, e.g. bank

workers or clerical staff.

A few firms have tried to get rid of the distinctions between manual

and white-collar workers by paying annual salaries to both. However,

most manual workers are still paid by the hour.





The national basic wage, or time rate, is agreed once a year in some

industries by the employers and unions involved. The basic wage is de-

cided mainly by the supply and demand for of labour. Generally, wages

will be low if a job can be done by almost anyone and high if a job re-

quires qualifications and training. Other factors, such as work conditions

or health risks, are also taken into account. The strength of the union

involved, the skills of its negotiators and the personality of its leader will

also have a great influence on the agreed basic wage.

Workers can receive many extra payments on top of their basic pay.

Some of these are negotiated nationally and some at the firm where they

work. They include:

Overtime pay for work done outside normal working hours, such as

at weekends or on holidays. Payment can vary from time and a quarter

to double time. Increased supervision may be needed to prevent workers

deliberately slowing down in working hours so that they can do more of

the better-paid overtime.

Shift premium payments for working anti-social hours late at night or

early in the morning.

Price rate, which pays workers a set rate for each article produced.

This was popular in the past when more goods were produced individu-

ally. Some firms still use it, but it is more usual for home-workers. One

drawback is that low-quality goods may be produced, so careful inspec-

tion is required.

Bonuses which are paid for producing beyond an agreed amount. A

standard rate of production is fixed for each job by measuring the time

taken to do it. A bonus is paid to a worker if more goods are produced

in the stated time. Individual bonuses may be replaced by group or team

bonuses, but this can cause resentment if there are slow-working mem-

bers of the team. Company bonus schemes are based on the total output

of the whole factory, but the bonus is often too small to motivate indi-

vidual workers.

Profit-sharing schemes set aside a proportion of a firm’s profits for

distribution among the work force. A reasonable percentage needs to be

set aside to have any motivating effect on the workers.

Merit pay for constant good performance at work. This may cause

resentment among other workers who think their work is just as good.

Employers must make certain deductions under PAYE from their

employees’ gross pay. Income tax and national insurance are statutory

deductions, which must be made by law. Other items, such as union fees,

subscriptions or savings, are voluntary deductions. What is left after all

deductions is the net pay, or take-home pay.

1. Which kinds of employee are usually paid wages?




2. What is the difference between gross pay and net pay?

3. Who sometimes settles the time rate for an industry?

4. What is the main drawback of piece rates? Where might they be

used as a method of payment?

5. State three kinds of bonus scheme. What are some of the advan-

tages and disadvantages?

6. Why can wages of newly employed manual workers be paid by



Text 3

Read the text. Put down the key words of each paragraph. Be ready to answer the ques-

tions given below.

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