The Value of Work

Yesterday saw the ESRI make the unprecedented move of pulling off their website a report that had made headlines earlier in the day.  The report that the ESRI decided, on reflection, that they could not stand over, claimed that some people were better off on the dole than working.  Specifically, this report claimed, that 44% of families were better off being in receipt of social welfare payments and the ancillary benefits associated with those payments than going to work.


In the hours between this report coming to light and it being removed from the think-tank’s website, there was much air time given to it. People rang various radio programmes and declared that they were aware of people who refused to work because they were better off on social welfare payments. Interestingly, I didn’t hear one person say they had, or would, refuse to work because they would rather be on the dole.


You see, work is about more than the money you get at the end of the week. Work provides a sense of self-esteem. It gets you out of the house, provides opportunities for intellectual stimulation, conversation with peers, the possibility to form relationships with other people. Work gives you a sense of purpose, a sense of pride, a sense that you are doing something worthwhile. Being offered a job comes with a sense of achievement – the knowledge that you were the most suitable candidate for the job – that you don’t get on the dole.


Work helps you feel like you’re making a contribution to the society in which you live. There’s a lot to be said for that, as self-esteem is very important for mental health. Of course, the pay check at the end of the week or month is useful, too, but it’s not the only reason to go to work.