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  • Writer's pictureChristina J. Colclough

Rewarding Work

Click below for short narration on the concept of Rewarding Work


The concept 'Rewarding Work' frames what work, both now as well as in the future, should be all about. Its an evolution of the concept of Decent Work.

Rewarding work is both a verb, an action: something we as an individuals, or as a society, do. We reward the work of others. Either through praise, appraisal, good working conditions or through monetary rewards (pay), or that we honour and reward the environmentally-friendly nature of the work.

Rewarding work is also an adjective - it qualifies the noun "work". Work can be decent, stressful or exploitative - it can also be Rewarding. As an adjective, Rewarding Work is a feeling, an attitude about ones own work. Do I feel fulfilled? Satisfied? Seen and appreciated?

Defining Rewarding Work

Work should be Rewarding in many forms:

  1. financially (all workers should earn at least a living wage, rents should be controlled);

  2. socially (all workers should have the right to thrive at work but also outside of work, be part of a collective, have the possibility to claim their rights and have them enforced);

  3. emotionally (no worker should be abused, exploited, harassed or lonely at work. Nor should workers suffer mentally due to exploitative working conditions and contracts);

  4. environmentally (we all should care about our environment, not least should the companies we work for);

  5. contractually (all workers should have a contract stipulating their rights and the company's duties in relation to these rights. This covers not least workers' digital rights);

  6. intellectually (all workers should feel their competencies and skills are respected and desired, and that competency growth is a natural part of work)

  7. digitally - (no worker should feel that their fundamental rights are exploited at work. All workers should have agency and influence over digital technologies used by the employers. This includes establishing collective data rights for workers and having systems in place for the co-goverance of digital technologies at work)

Work should be fulfilling.

Imagine if it was so

None of the dimensions of rewarding work mentioned above are impossible or far-fetched. If we chose to make it so, we can. Let's for a second loosen us from the shackles of the present and imagine a rewarding world of work. What would it look like?

  • The working poor would be a concept of the past. Zero-hour contracts too;

  • We would have a balance of interests in the market moving beyond narrow measures of productivity and efficiency into a broader definition of success along the lines of Rewarding Work;

  • Forced self-employment would be stopped; not least because the economic incentives to put folks onto precarious contracts will be removed;

  • Workers mental health will be vastly improved;

  • We will know that the labour we pour into work is not ultimately detrimental to our mother earth;

  • We will have structures and institutions in place to co-create a digital world of work so it empowers, not enslaves, workers and indeed society;

  • The informal economy, which in some countries makes up to 93% of all jobs, will shrink.

  • Domestic work will be valued once more

Tech could help

And a lot more could be written here, and will be as time goes by. One thing I wish to add already now, is that a responsible application of digital technologies could serve to support the enforcement of rewarding work. This will require a strong, trustworthy state and new sets of regulation to promote the dimensions of rewarding work.

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