Is working hard an Ego addiction we don't want to shake off?

Have we become so addicted to the our work, encouraged by the need of a big house with mortgage and fancy gadgets? That life is more about ego than happiness and our families?

In this 'misery' index by the WEF unemployment is linked to unhappiness.

We have become addicted to responding to emails instantly and this 'always connected' lifestyle is literally KILLING US, but is it something we have so ingrained into our psyche we can't simply shake it off with a simple, you know what you're doing so stop it.

However, is it tied to societal pressures and cultural drivers that are fed by media and film subversion that feeds us constant messages on the desire to own everything and success is determined by how you 'look' to others? You desperately need to look rich, even if you are mortgaged up to the hilt.

Then of course to achieve such wealth you have to be 'perfect' at work and achieve dizzy heights of promotion and more promotion and extra workload.

These pressures are so enormous, it's taking it's toll on our physical and mental health. Just take a look at the Health and Safety Executive's statistics on stress and absence. The devastating results on our relationships, as well as killing our creativity plays out in this individualistic world where fastest wins. Collaboration will quickly die.

Why has 'looking' successful become so incredibly important as the ultimate goal in so many people's unconscious/conscious mind?

Not only does the media have some responsibility here, but the values being driven at the top of organisations. Shareholder value being the biggest which more often than not pushes short term results not sustainability and growth over resilience to market/societal conditions.

Where does HR and Learning and Development fit in?

We are failing in our job to:

  1. be the conscience of the organisation and allow damaging values to flourish
  2. provide adequate support to those who really need it in terms of managing stress and expectations,
  3. as well as constantly focusing on weaknesses (from a development point of view) instead of hiring balanced teams
  4. support collaboration by focusing on individual performance rather than team/group
  5. ignoring risk and managing short term change in the worst possible way, unco-ordinated

Re-align the values for the long term and support people with a focus on humanness that encourages them to manage themselves better. We desperately need to untangle this notion that happiness is tied to money and I think our engagement surveys tell us just that. Otherwise we risk this drive towards continuous unhappiness and the search for a better meaning in life.