Would you keep working if you were lucky enough to win the lottery?

Majority of people derive sense of purpose from employment: Survey
By Claudine Kapel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/15/2014

Many people have fantasies about winning the jackpot and promptly quitting their jobs to embrace a new life of leisure.

It’s an interesting scenario to contemplate. But the truth is people may not be as eager to give up their day jobs as you might think.

CareerBuilder recently conducted a poll of 3,372 workers in the United States, asking them whether they would keep working if they won the lottery.

One-half of the respondents (51 per cent) said they would still work after winning the lottery, even if they didn’t need a job financially. Further, 30 per cent said they would keep their current job.

Not surprisingly, the results highlighted that the value of working isn’t just about earning a paycheque. The most common reasons given for remaining employed after winning included:

•"I would be bored if I didn’t work" (77 per cent)

•"Work gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment" (76 per cent)

•"I want financial security aside from financial winnings" (42 per cent)

•"I would miss co-workers" (23 per cent).

On the flip side, nearly one-half (49 per cent) of the respondents indicated they’d stop working if they won a lottery. When asked how they would quit their job, the most common responses were:

•Give two weeks’ notice or give my employer more time if they needed it to find a replacement (48 per cent).

•Give two weeks’ notice and leave after two weeks (31 per cent).

•Resign that day without giving notice (13 per cent).

•Tell off the boss and air all grievances (three per cent).

•Not show up for work the next morning without formally quitting (two per cent).

Although 30 per cent of survey respondents said they’d stay in their current job, that doesn’t mean they already have their dream job. Only 15 per cent indicated they are currently working in their dream job, and another 36 per cent reported that while they’re not quite there yet, they believe they will be someday.

Surveys that offer insights into the minds of employees almost always reinforce that while pay is important, it’s only one facet of a positive and engaging employer-employee relationship. It’s a worthy aspiration to be the type of employer that employees wouldn’t want to leave, even if they won a lottery.

So what does it take to deliver a great place to work? The CareerBuilder survey highlights some key themes — including interesting and challenging work, a sense of purpose and accomplishment and good colleagues.

So before your office pool wins the big one, you may want to ask a few pivotal questions about your organization’s employment proposition:

•To what extent are employees engaged or stimulated by their work? To what extent do they have opportunities to solve problems, contribute to decisions or implement change?

•Does the organization help employees feel a sense of emotional connection to its mission, vision and values? How does the organization help employees to see themselves as part of a bigger community?

•To what extent does the organization encourage teamwork and collaboration? Does it leverage training and technology to encourage cross-functional co-operation and problem-solving?

Addressing these considerations can help create engaging work environments that inspire people to deliver their very best.

But you may still want to toss your toonie into the office lottery pool. Because you never know.

Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates, a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. She can be reached at claudine@kapelandassociates.com.