Live to work or work to live? 72 per cent of Brits go to work just to get by

Payment Sense has been looking into why Brits really work, is it to pay the bills or do employee’s want to have a good career?

Ever sat and assessed why you actually go to work? Are you career driven and want to build your knowledge or do you go to work just to afford to get by, pay the rent and support the family?

According to a recent survey conducted by Paymentsense, the majority of Brits simply work to live. Seventy-two per cent of Brits say they wake up every day and head to the office just to be able to pay the bills. One in three working employees are unhappy in their jobs and 25 per cent (one in four) are considering a whole career change in 2018.

So when do we lose the motivation for our careers and when is it that we stop living to work and focus on just being able to cover the rent?

You’ll reach your career peak at 42 years old

According to 2000 UK participants, the career peak occurs at 42 years old and this is when you start to lose passion for your work.

At this age, opportunities to progress seem to be rare which is why when asking those in their 40’s why do you go to work every day, a huge 76 per cent say to be able to afford to live. Fifty- one per cent say they need to just pay the mortgage and 57 per cent have responsibilities to support the family.

Just 11 per cent of those in their 40’s say they are passionate about their job and a mere 14 per cent want to build their career.

Those that have reached their ‘career peak’ say having 20+ annual holiday days (47 per cent) and a well-paid salary (65 per cent) is more important to them than opportunities to progress (five per cent).

Nineteen per cent of Brits overall face little to no progression opportunities and of those that attended University – 67 per cent say their degrees went to waste and work in a role completely unrelated.

So what is the most important aspect of a job according to employees in the UK?

Money is the biggest motivator for working Brits

Despite the fact that 21 per cent live to work, are career driven and want to build their knowledge and skills as much as possible; the most important aspect of a job for workers in Britain is pay.

A whopping 86 per cent of participants say money is the most important when it comes to their job. However, 72 per cent say it is also important to have a good pension scheme and 20+ holiday days too (79 per cent).

More than one in three say a good maternity scheme is important to them so that they are covered financially when they decide to have a child. And one in four say childcare schemes are too!

Figure 1 Goldman Sachs office creche

Onsite creches or childcare vouchers are in demand for working parents. According to the latest figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, only five per cent of businesses in the UK now offer childcare in the workplace. This is almost exclusively made up of large employers because they have the money and space to allow for it.

Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs opened the City of London’s first on-site corporate office creche in 2003 offering all employees with children 20 days free childcare a year.

Although some companies are providing solutions to childcare struggles, 32 per cent say they want the opportunity too to work flexibly.

Sixty-four per cent of Brits are in fact happy in their roles

Despite the fact that the majority of Britain go to work to live, 64 per cent of participants said they were happy in their roles. Employees in Scotland were surprisingly the most interested in building their careers as well as those within the 18-24-year-old bracket.

Twenty-two per cent of young workers (25-34-year-olds) are motivated by having more responsibility and 19 per cent are motivated by progression (18-24-year-olds).

Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense, says, ‘Although money is the biggest motivator, it is shocking to see how many Brits choose money over passion when it comes to working. Employers have a certain amount of responsibility for the motivation and well-being of the workforce and for a team to function to their best of its ability, all members must be fully engaged and committed.

‘Employees losing their motivation or passion for their role can be detrimental to business and therefore employers are advised to really listen and respond to your employees’ needs to ensure high levels of engagement throughout your company. Spotting the warning signs of a disengaged employee early and addressing them quickly can help encourage retention.’

Further reading on work

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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