Why do you work?

What a question this is. It is a question which has been consuming me since the turn of the year, I just keep coming back to it.

Does this question even matter, isn’t it obvious? We all have bills to pay, we all have lives which require the exchange of money for the services, goods, and experiences we choose to spend our time doing. Surely that is why we all work?

I get that, but that’s too simplistic for me. Why? Well, being really honest, that view is about money and not much else. In the current economy, whatever your skillset you should be able to find paid work. Will it be enough, or the work you want to do, or can you access work? I get those questions, and there obviously will be exceptions, but there is paid work there to be had, and lots of it.

So lets agree paid work is there. If you don’t agree, I’d probably head off now and find something else in your echo chamber, as we are about to go right down the ‘why’ rabbit hole.

I come back to my question, why do you do the work you currently do? In fact let me go further down the rabbit hole; why do you have the approach you currently do to work?

These questions I believe are the most important questions, which should form the basis of all conversation across the jobs market right now.

It has never been easier to find people who are a good fit for the roles you are looking to hire right now. Unless you are sat in the dark ages, the range of technology in place to make finding, and reaching people has never been better. This does not mean you need the world’s most expensive technology stack, lots of things are out there for free.

So lets agree it’s never been easier to find people.

So, if it has never been easier to find people, and to reach people, why are there so many vacancies unfilled in the UK economy right now? Many people will tell you because it’s all about ‘engagement’ and not just reaching out to people, but I don’t think this is right. Engagement is one aspect, but there is no shortage of ‘fantastic, amazing, or When Harry met Sally earth shattering style roles’ out there to talk to you about right now. Great right? WRONG! You can have the best roles in the world, but you have to understand ‘why’ people work, ‘why’ they choose where to work, and most importantly ‘why’ they choose to approach work the way they do.

It’s about alignment, not engagement for me. Aligning your business with people who have the same ‘why’ which will drive your business goals, whilst at the same time making sure your business practices align with why people choose to work.

The jobs landscape is still recovering from the past two years, not from an opportunities available perspective, but from a what work means and looks like perspective. Working patterns is not a ‘why,’ working remotely, or in an office, or on a hybrid basis is not a why; it’s an approach, or a process. Conversations are focusing on these approaches to working practices, and not why we want these things, and what they mean for us as either people or organisations.

I should be clear I don’t have all the answers here. I am very lucky; I have achieved the majority of the things I set out to achieve during my career in recruitment. I set goals, I went for them, and I achieved 9 out of 10 before my 40th birthday. However why I still work, why I work the way I do, and  why I put myself under unbearable pressure, that is what you need to understand if you want to understand me.

It is no different for everyone else out there right now, but are you as a business trying to understand these things in the people you want to speak to? Are you as an individual aware of why you are working in the place and way you are right now? What is your ‘why’ either giving you, or preventing you when it comes to your life?

If you made it this far, then something about what you have read must have made you do that, or must have resonated with you. So why not reach out and tell me why you work? Honestly, I would love to know, as I find it fascinating.

This article was written by Simon Brown, Founder of Digital 51 and occasional deep thinker. It’s fair to say this article is a reflection of some deep thinking from Simon. Do you agree with what he has written? Why not reach out and tell Simon your thoughts by messaging him via