Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, did a study along with some members of his team to find out how levels of satisfaction are affected by spending money on experiences versus spending money on physical things (I explored this at length with him during a podcast conversation). Gilovich and his team found that people who spend money on physical things such as phones, computers, houses or cars tend to have a drop in satisfaction as time goes on. On the other hand, they found that people who spend money on experiences, like skydiving, traveling or learning a new skill, have higher satisfaction levels overtime. Think about that for a minute. Overall you will be happier when you spend money on experiences versus physical things. This is a profound finding.
Gilovich's research very much applies to how we think about and approach work. For most of us, when we start working for an organization the relationship we have is very transactional. That is, overtime our satisfaction starts to go down. I believe we all start off as engaged employees who genuinely want to make an impact with the work we do, but something happens that eventually grinds us down and sucks out all satisfaction - we become disengaged, bored, and disconnected.
What if instead, we found a way to think about work as an experience where, over time, our satisfaction actually goes up. This is the challenge for most organizations today are faced with and is one that they must overcome if they want to be able to attract and retain the best talent. Organizations have to find a way to allow employees to feel as if they have purchased an experience--as if they have climbed a mountain or gone skydiving. They need to find a way to help employees get that feeling of increased satisfaction as time goes on. If organizations could do this successfully, think of what that would do to the way we work, the way we feel and the way we live. What do you think? How do you think organizations could fix the way we view work?
I explore this more in the video below