Home > Free Essays > Business > Workforce > The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement
Rate

The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jul 9th, 2021

The dependence on economic merits has always been a significant factor in people’s lives, making them approach the choice of career cautiously and thoroughly. Without a sufficient amount of money, one cannot get access to all the necessary things and services, on some of which not only one’s well-being but also life may depend. However, even despite the importance of financial stability, not all individuals are driven by the “carrots and sticks” motivation.1 In modern society, people are more and more interested in continuous improvement of their results rather than merely in receiving an award for their work.

The concepts of engagement and meaningful work have altered with the emergence of new work opportunities and new “operating systems” of societies.2 Many thousands of years ago, the core motivation to work was the survival instinct. However, with the appearance of more complex societies, the operating system grounded purely in the biological drive was not sufficient any longer. Actually, it was even necessary to restrain such a system in order to prevent people from stealing someone’s food or taking away one’s partner.3

Thus, a new drive emerged – that of reward and punishment as the means of motivating workers. Taking control of that motive was crucial to economic progress in many countries. In that approach, people were viewed as “parts in a complicated machine”4 whose achievements were rewarded and whose failures were punished. For quite a long time, this system was successful until a new one appeared and gained more significance and popularity.

The newest approach to motivation is concerned with intrinsic values rather than such factors as bonuses, rankings, and incentive plans. One of the most successful examples of such a method is Wikipedia – an encyclopedia which was created by many people from all over the world, none of whom received payment for their work.5 While it seemed that the idea of having unpaid laborers was not to become sustainable, many services employing such an approach turned out to be very successful. An important issue to analyze is whether the concepts of engagement and meaningful work exist for people receiving minimum wage.

Morgan Spurlock, the host of a reality TV show 30 Days, carried out an experiment of living on a minimum wage for a month. The results of this experiment are intense, the host showing what tremendous hardships await thousands of US citizens on a daily basis.6 Taking into consideration all the adverse outcomes of living at or even below the poverty level, as Spurlock and his girlfriend do in the program, it seems that the concept of meaningful work cannot be related to such employees. Open-source movement, according to Pink, does not presuppose taking a vow of poverty.7

Instead, people who are intrinsically motivated do not mind sharing some of their skills with the aim of creating some new and useful product or service. However, when one receives a minimum wage, there is rarely a spare minute to think about relieving someone else’s life. Instead, these individuals need to be in constantly search for the means of providing for their families.

One of the most dramatic issues revealed in 30 Days was when Spurlock had some acute health problem and could not visit a doctor.8 The man then realized that many people met such a problem every day. Minimum wage workers cannot afford a private clinic, and the waiting line in the public one is so long that it may be too late to use its services. Taking this fact in view, it does not seem appropriate to consider that such employees will be interested in “sharpening their skills”9 or burnishing their reputations” while doing additional unpaid work.

Very often, families relying on minimum wage cannot afford enough food, clothes, or elementary facilities. They cannot pay their electricity, water, and gas bills, and they do not have cars. Communing by public transport may also be not accessible, which leads to more difficulties. In such circumstances, it seems impossible for a person to think about “enhancing their earning power” through working on a project for which they will not be paid.10 Thus, it is viable to conclude that the concept of engagement does not exist for a worker receiving minimum wage.

Still, it is not fair that minimum-wage employees both earn very little and have no time or opportunity to increase their chances for success. Therefore, it is crucial to think of the ways of combining the harsh living circumstances and prospects of a better life for these laborers. According to Pink, “enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation” is the strongest driver for workers.11 Probably it would be a good idea to create some motives for minimum-wage laborers so that they could develop their potential, too. However, in the present situation, it does not seem viable to engage such employees only by means of spiritual and professional growth. What these people need is immediate financial support rather than the promise of gaining it in the long run.

The discussion about concepts of meaningful work is not appropriate in all contexts. Only people who have financial support from sources other than their minimum wage have a possibility to think of “social businesses.”12 Pink admits that “not only for profit” businesses have not become a common phenomenon yet.13 Spurlock, in his turn, explains why this process is not progressing too fast.

In 30 Days, the audience can see the life of a person who has money only to satisfy the most basic needs. Sometimes, it is even worse: minimum-wage earners frequently fail to pay for the simplest things they require.14 Spurlock notes that in 1938, when the minimum wage was introduced, its purpose was to help workers maintain a bare minimum standard of living.15 However, the minimum wage has not been raised for over two decades whereas the cost of living has altered greatly. Hence, the law no longer satisfies its primary aim, leaving many people below the level of being able to cover their basic needs.

Since 1997, Senator Ted Kennedy has made numerous attempts to pass the bill on raising the minimum wage, but every time, there are not enough voices to support it.16 In such conditions, it seems that the general American public should treat the concepts of engagement and meaningful work only as an inherent part of capitalism. Meanwhile, many politicians oppose the rise of minimum wage since it threatens to cause harm to businesses by forcing them to lay off employees and reduce employment. Instead, they suggest lowering taxes and labor regulations to increase people’s prosperity.17 Until some changes in this direction are made, it is not acceptable to speak of the benefits of heuristic work.

Even though Pink’s suggestion related to heuristic work make sense, there is no way of implementing its principles in the present-day US labor market. Heuristic work, as opposed to algorithmic labor, is regarded as the major driver of job growth nowadays.18 The main reason is that while routine work can be automated or outsourced, non-routine and artistic labor cannot. However, almost all kinds of heuristic work which Pink discusses involve gaining new knowledge or skills. Even though these skills might be obtained through some programs or online courses, minimum-wage workers cannot afford them. As a result, the engagement in the workplace should start not with heuristic approaches but with creating equal opportunities for each worker to exploit these approaches.

Overall, the problems of minimum-wage employees should receive more attention and sympathy from lawmakers than they currently do. The principle of equality, by which society claims to live, seems not to have reached the people living at the poverty line. Until every working citizen is capable of satisfying their basic needs, there is no way of speaking about the merits of heuristic work. The dependence on economic gains has always been and still remains the fundamental factor in establishing the people’s level of possibilities. Thus, for the general public, the concepts of engagement and meaningful work are merely an inherent part of capitalism.

Until the government realizes that this price is too high to pay, minimum-wage employees will not be able to receive even a part of opportunities that other laborers have. It is crucial to make some changes in legislation so as to increase access to better employment and salary opportunities for everyone.

Bibliography

Pink, Daniel H. “The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2:0.” In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, edited by D. H. Pink, 13-31. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.

” YouTube video, 42:17. Posted by 30 Days Full Episodes HD. 2017. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Daniel H. Pink, “The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2:0,” in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, ed. D. H. Pink (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009), 16.
  2. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 16.
  3. Ibid., 16.
  4. Ibid., 17.
  5. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 20.
  6. “30 Days Season 1 Episode 2,” YouTube video, 42:17, posted by 30 Days Full Episodes HD, 2017. Web.
  7. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 21.
  8. “30 Days Season 1 Episode 2.”
  9. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 21.
  10. Ibid., 21.
  11. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 21.
  12. Ibid., 23.
  13. Ibid., 23.
  14. “30 Days Season 1 Episode 2.”
  15. Ibid.
  16. “30 Days Season 1 Episode 2.”
  17. Ibid.
  18. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 28.
This essay on The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2021, July 9). The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-struggle-of-the-minimum-wage-workers-and-the-ideas-of-worker-engagement/

Work Cited

"The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement." IvyPanda, 9 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/the-struggle-of-the-minimum-wage-workers-and-the-ideas-of-worker-engagement/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement." July 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-struggle-of-the-minimum-wage-workers-and-the-ideas-of-worker-engagement/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement." July 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-struggle-of-the-minimum-wage-workers-and-the-ideas-of-worker-engagement/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement." July 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-struggle-of-the-minimum-wage-workers-and-the-ideas-of-worker-engagement/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Struggle of the Minimum-Wage Workers and the Ideas of Worker Engagement'. 9 July.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Hellen
Online
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!