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Dream jobs during the slow recovery

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Auckland waterfront at night


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During the last general election in New Zealand, the National Party (conservatives) made a spirited move for power by offering sizeable tax cuts. So keen we all were to find out our share, we crashed the Nats’ site within hours of their announcement.

My share was considerable: NZD2000 or in purchasing power parity terms, twice what I spent on clothes per year. The Nats didn’t win though. And the big question was why not? We were obviously interested. And the amount was significant.

So why didn’t the Nats win? And is this story relevant to the UK as we climb out of the credit crunch and the threatened recession in a slow recovery?

People don’t like the bashing of people who are unemployed or on the benefit

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. There but for the grace of God, etc. etc. Both NZ and UK are individualistic, masculine cultures (each to his own) but both countries dislike power differentials and huge disparities of wealth. We knew full well what would pay for those tax cuts and in my case, NZD2K was not enough to persuade me to take bread off the table of someone who is unemployed.

Voters understand that our economic policy requires a million or so people to be out-of-work

Voters are not economics experts but most of us know the basics. We know that if everyone has a job, inflation would take off. Both NZ and UK have policies of keeping inflation down to around 3%. Our economic prosperity depends on several percentage of the population being out-of-work.  So how can we take a blaming tone?

We have new attitudes to work and employment

Jane McGonigal, alternate reality games designer described games as “happiness engines”. And she asks an important question: why don’t we design work that is as compelling, engaging and as fun as games?

We do know how to design jobs that are enjoyable. Indeed the basic techniques have been in the textbooks on management and psychology for over 30 years. And games designers use these principles every day.

We want work that is so much fun we have to pay people NOT to work and to go home and play games! That is the doable demand from the citizenry of the 21st century!

Can politicians rise to the challenge of work that is more fun than games?

I think the first step is a social media solution: set up happiness surveys on the internet. When we feel so moved, we log on and say “I love this job”.

Then we will know which sectors are getting the thumbs-up from their employees, and as the saying goes, what gets measured gets done!

And we can worry about how much to pay people to stay at home!

What do you think?

Hat-tip to Sirona recruitment consultants  who inspired this post.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

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Published in Economy & International Relations


  1. Jo,

    Glad to provide you with some insiration. I like your concept of a happiness survey – just not sure how that would be delivered!! Isn’t the general election a happiness survey?

    The concept of trying to make everyone happy at work is certainly awesome, but when you the world is turning many people into materialistic individuals (society peer pressure), the demand for money grows. This then manifests itself into want and greed, and ultimately unhappiness because they cannot achieve their ‘goals’.

    We all need to have a good dose of realism, and forget the utopian belief that everyone can be happy at the same time!!


  2. Jo Jo

    Something like twitter would do – I love this job controlling passengers on the platform on Bond Street station.

    The beauty of social media is that other people would figure out the rest. Actually we could use twitter.

    My point is politicians should be watching the quality of work and then scratching their heads how to make the conditions more favorable for firms that offer quality work.

    They will know that they have reached the tipping point when they have to beg people to become unemployed. That’s the 21st century ethos we need!

    The voting captures the positive moment, amplifies it which makes us feel even better, and gives them data to monitor how well we are achieving the goal.

    I love this stuff!

  3. GK GK

    Yes either design jobs that are fun
    or give better pay to the employees !!!

    Or give bonuses
    that should make things more interesting at work !!

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