Employment

To love and to work—these are the two major activities of adulthood that Sigmund Freud viewed not only as outlets for one's energies and creativity but also as giving meaning to individual existence. One does not have to be a staunch advocate of the Protestant ethic to realize that our work defines our identity—what we are, organizes our time and our lives, and provides us with social stimulation and a sense of pride. Consequently, it is not surprising to hear many people confess that they would continue to work at something even if they were paid nothing for doing so or became so rich that they no longer needed to labor in order to support themselves and their families. The fact that the need to engage in productive work continues even when mone— tary rewards for doing so are no longer forthcoming is seen in the activities of retirees whose pensions and other assets are sufficient to let them do what— ever they wish. Most retirees who are physically capable of doing so continue to pursue nonrecreational as well as recreational activities of various sorts, merely for the sake of personal enjoyment in doing and producing something.

Many of today's workers, and young adults in particular, do not subscribe to the Bismarckian notion that the purpose of life is to do one's dutiful work. They look upon work as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Thus, they work to attain self-actualization and to provide them with the wherewithal to pursue other, nonwork interests. Rather than adhering to the traditional ethic of company loyalty, today's workers place more emphasis on their own personal needs and those of their families, and on control over their own lives (Noble, 1993). According to management consultant Roger Herman, "Corporate loyalty is dead" (Bianco, 1997). A large percentage of young workers do not remain on a particular job very long, a tendency that is likely to increase in the future; they move to where they can get the best deal in terms of pay, benefits, and hours, which may be contract and temporary work. Furthermore, in order to meet household expenses, pay off debts, save money, or buy something special, nearly 7% of American workers are holding down more than one job (Bianco, 1997).

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