However, the division of labor which fosters anomie has resulted into routinization of work, making work dull and repetitive. As a result, workers have lost their sense of commitment to their work as they have lost focus on the organizational goals and visions. Routinization makes employees to be less dependent on their skills as they can predict how the work can be executed (Leidner, 1993, p. 25). The Shanghai gentleman is bored by his work because of lack of challenges courtesy of routinization. Therefore, much as division of labor enhances solidarity on the one hand, it promotes routinization in the labor market thus reducing the commitment towards goals ().
A Marxist approach to work sociology is rather critical to the exploitation that capitalistic institutions promote. According to Keith (2005), capitalism has denied humanity its quintessentiality and as a result, alienation of the majority in the working class has been the bitter consequence. In delineating ‘objectification’ and ‘alienation’, he says, [o]bjectification is the product of human labor on raw materials; it embodies the producer’s creativity and yet remains separate from the producer. Thus some form of production is essential to humanity both in the material structure of social life and in facilitating the self-realization of individual potential. However, where the system is capitalist, that is where the means of production are owned by a minority, where the majority only own their labour power, and where production is for profit through commodity market, the result is not objectification but alienation (Keith, 2005).
This tendency to capitalism is evident in the survey conducted wherein, the Shanghai gentleman complained of a strict and down to the nitty gritties kind of boss. He also had to commit most of his time to his work as even though he was not satisfied with the pay. The Hong Kong lady on the same breath raised concerns about the high amount of time (9 hours) she has to give to her job at the expense of her family. She too did not experience job satisfaction since she later commented when asked whether she would miss her job when she retired, “No, I will not miss my job if I retired as I need to really take a rest.” This plainly depicts the kind of exploitation that capitalism by the minority (bourgeois) brings on the majority of the working class (proletarians).
Furthermore, as individuals work, their morale towards their jobs may sink and thus impacting negatively on the overall productivity. Hence, in order to propel them, motivational strategies are imperative to this end. Motivation is the intensity and direction of effort put forth. Motivation plays the role of promoting performance, learning, and enjoyment or job satisfaction. Intrinsic motivation is the need for an individual to feel competent and take pride in something while extrinsic motivation is the undertaking of an activity so as to achieve a separate outcome. In order to foster the execution of an activity through motivation, rewards are normally given. A reward is something that one is given when a desired action has been performed. It can include job promotion, cooperation from others, and commendation of one’s achievements at work. The Hong Kong lady experienced this when her boss praised her for cooperating with other employees. This to her, was one of the best experiences in her working life (McCullagh, 2005; Ryan & Deci, 2000).
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Last but not list, individuals experience work-related stressors that cause to burn-out. These stressors are the physical and emotional responses that individuals experience due to the demands of their jobs. Some of the stressors that were given in a study conducted by National Association of Social Workers include: Completing routine tasks that that have little intrinsic value, working for long hours, incomparable salaries with colleagues in the same job level, and inability to balance professional and personal life. As a way of coping with the stressors, individuals ventured into exercise, therapy and meditation (Arrington, 2008). In the interview with the elderly lady, physical drain was pointed out as one of the stressor since she had to work for 9 hours a day. The gentleman too complained that he never had a chance to engage in other activities since the job demands were high (8 hours of work per day). Another factor that could have contributed to their stress is the challenge of juggling between work and caring for the family. All the participants in the interview were unanimous concerning their priorities. Both stated that their work topped the list of priority and family came later. In order to cope with their job demands, the Hong Kong lady had to work harder and put in more hours while the Shanghai gentleman benefited from scheduling his tasks and cultivating patience.
Generally both employees experienced some ups and down during their working life. The Hong Kong lady in particular said she would never miss her job since it drained her physically and did not allow her sufficient time with her family. Her advice though to the young generation joining the workforce is, “If you work hard and be a team player, then you will succeed one day.” The Shanghai gentleman on the other hand gave this parting shot, “Work is always not your all.” All in all, we can deduce that work is just part of achieving a purposeful and meaningful life.
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