Would you keep working if you won the lottery?

Survey finds majority of people derive sense of purpose from employment

By Claudine Kapel

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

It’s an interesting scenario to contemplate, especially around Labour Day. But the truth is people may not be as eager to give up their day job as one 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 survey results highlighted that the value of working isn’t just about earning a paycheque. The most common reasons given for remaining employed after winning a lottery 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 did indicate 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 after winning a lottery, that doesn’t mean they have their dream job. Only 15 per cent of respondents 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 are always interesting. And they almost always reinforce that while pay is important, it’s only one facet of a positive and engaging employer-employee relationship.

It’s also a worthy aspiration to seek to be the type of employer that employees wouldn’t want to leave, even if they won a lottery.

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 the organization leverage training and technology to encourage cross-functional cooperation and problem solving?

Addressing these types 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

Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a human resources consulting firm specializing in compensation design, performance management, and employee communications. Claudine is also the co-author of The HR Manager’s Guide to Total Rewards and Straight Talk on Managing Human Resources.
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