Breaking news
Home » Human Nature » Beliefs » Would you work for free?

Would you work for free?

Do you love your job so much you'd work for free?

Do you love your job so much you’d work for free?

Which of the following best describes how much you love your current job?”

This was apparently a question asked by the international employment website, Monster in a recent survey. They provided 5 answers which ranged from “Love it, would do it for free” to “Hate it – but it is a necessary evil.”

The Canadians topped the survey with 24% saying yes. It sounds impressive – but a quick peruse of the U.S.A news release for Monster indicates 22% of the U.S. people surveyed said they’d do their job for free, so the U.S.A. people are just as happy to work for free. However, people in the UK are much more likely to want compensation, as the number drops precipitously to 10% loving their job so much they’d do it for free.

Pausing for a moment here, just think of the golden era that can now unfold in North America?! Companies, non-profit organisations, governments – they can all immediately cut costs by identifying the 22-24% of their workforce who love their jobs so much they’d do it for free – and stop paying them. In contrast, the North American governments would suddenly loose up to 22-24% of their revenue from income tax, so society will have some adjustments to make as services get cut (unless the countries keep their digital printing presses running hot). Suddenly, the British government is probably secretly thanking its lucky stars 90% of Brits want to get paid for work!

Corporate golden era fantasies aside though, one has to ask, who in their right mind CAN work for free? The next question is HOW will they survive if they work for free? And then there are a whole host of other questions like, were the people who said they’d work for free, interns who just wanted to get some job experience? Were these people older people who were semi-retired and didn’t need to work but wanted to work to do something? Were these people all independently wealthy? Did the people who said they’d work for free have a family to support? Any obligations to pay a bill to someone?

But alas, Monster didn’t ask questions like that. I’m sure we’d all like to know the answers to why some people reckon they’d work for free!

Instead, Monster apparently surveyed 8,000 people in an international survey to determine job satisfaction. This seems to have been spread across 7 countries only – Canada (population: 34,800,000), Netherlands (population: 17,770,000), India (population: 1,237,000,000 ), U.S.A. (population: 313,900,000), U.K. (population: 63,000,000), France (population: 65,700,000) and Germany (population: 81,890,000) (population sources: google). So, that is a total population of 1,813,060,000 – that’s 1.8 billion, folks, or 25% of the world’s population. And of that, they asked 8,000 people – so that’s 0.000414% of the population of the countries in the survey and 0.00011% of all the worlds’ population (approx. 7.93 billion in November 2013) – I think I’ve got that right!

Suffice to say, a survey of 8,000 people becomes almost meaningless when it does not appear to represent any significant number of the population. If the people surveyed were a ‘species’ they’d probably be listed as ‘critically endangered’ as per the IUCN levels of threatened species!

For example, now that we are starting to get a little bit if perspective here, how seriously can we take the results of a survey of 8,000 people who represent a population base of 1.8 billion people? How many of that 1.8 billion are working right now? How do we define working –  any labour that was done for money or labour that was done to put food

in our families mouths? Was it 1 hour per day? 8 hours per day? Working steadily? Working 5 days a week? 7 days a week? When you consider the working demographic of a country like India alone, its actually quite amazing that 1 in 5 people or 20% of the working population of India want to work for free?! That could solve a lot of problems for corporate India!

But let’s return to the country where the most people would work for free – Canada. Remember, 24% said love their job so much they’d work for free.

In 2012, apparently 61.8% of Canadians were employed. What does being ’employed’ mean in Canada? That is a little hard to pin down – unsurprisingly, the tax department has a different definition (which can be summed up as something along the lines of ‘are you receiving any sort of income that we might be able to tax?’) to those who churn out employment figures. I started to dig into it, but turns out the employment figures given by Human Resources and Skills Canada (HRSC) are defined slightly differently than those generated by Statistics Canada, and the Statistics Canada definitions for ‘employed‘ seemed to exclude a minority of Canadians – all of whom are probably earning something, even though HRSC is looking to Statistics Canada for numbers!

After shaking my head, I went back to HRSC’s definition – ie anyone over the age of 15 in Canada who engaged in any form of work – full time, part time, contract, seasonal, etc. Alright then – how many people are ‘working’ in Canada? Well, turns out in 2011, a year before HRSC’s 2012 figures, the working age population was defined as “15-64” and that was 68.5% of the total Canadian population or approximately 23,800,000 Canadians. Of course, some Canadians over the age of 64 were probably working… but I guess we have to exclude them?! So already the numbers are starting to drift as rounding errors creep in.

But getting back to it numbers of people who want to work for free in Canada – we’ve now established that in the last 2 years, approximately 23,800,000 people were of working age. And the unemployment rate has hovered at around just over 7% for that period, so lets round down to 7% unemployment (to be generous). That brings my approximate number of working Canadians circa 2012-ish to about 22,134,000 Canadians who were working in one form or another.

My numbers are slipping into fuzzy territory anyway! But bear with me…

Right. Deep breath. Golden moment – So how many Canadians would genuinely work for free if the Monster survey is to be believed? 22,134,000 * 24% = 5,312,160(ish).

Seriously? Over 5 million Canadians would work for free?! And we extrapolated that from a survey of about 1,000 Canadians?

Completely unsurprisingly, I could not find any numbers for Canadians who have no need of money to survive and thus worked simply because they loved their job. But the median income for Canadians is $72,240 (2012) and it turns out to be very hard to find a cost of living index (the Consumer Price Index is apparently not it!). Wouldn’t you like to know if most people in your country are able to live within their means or not? I’m guessing in Canada, they aren’t because the Bank of Canada is constantly ringing its hands over Canadians carrying a debt load of 163% – which means that for every $1 they earn, they owe $1.63. So, if you earn $72,240 per year, the odds are you owe “other’s” $117,751. That is a rather powerful incentive to not work for free!

However, don’t worry – coincidentally, 24% of Canadians are debt free (the same 24% that are included in the working population? I can’t answer…)! Would those debt free Canadians be willing to work for free? I mean, why not? They have no debt right? Oh, hang on – they still have to buy food, clothes, shelter, heating (not the warmest of countries in winter), transportation, if they are not within walking distance. Damn it, it means that you’d still need to have money, even if debt free! So that might mean a lot of those debt free Canadians are still wanting to be paid. So they aren’t the 24% who want to work for free!

Furthermore, as polite as Canadians are, it turns out, a noisy collection of people who WERE working for free, didn’t like it and turned around and demanded compensation! The cheek of it all when Monster has established that nearly 1/4 of Canadians would work for free. I guess this miserable lot come from the 76% of Canadians who would not work for free, and finding themselves working for free alongside those who were getting paid to do the same thing, decided it wasn’t really fair at all. Human nature ‘n’ all….

So, at the end of the day, based on a survey of approximately 1,000 Canadians, where 240 people apparently said they’d be willing to work for free, you can extrapolate from the Monster numbers that about 5,000,000 Canadians would love to work for free – but if you make them, they may turn around and sue you for compensation. Maybe that answer should have been “Love it – would work for free, unless everyone around me is getting paid.

I don’t know about you – but I don’t think the numbers are adding up here and reality takes away from the rosy results of the Monster survey. No wonder Monster have been remarkably coy about reporting their margin of error in the survey results!

Did you realise that when you start scratching the surface the survey’s may not reflect reality? And would you work for free?? Please comment below

About Sally