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Dan Ariely: The key to feeling good about our work

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With more than 40 years spent working, every person in this world has at least once asked themselves what the purpose of all this is and what keeps them running.

In a century in which even a 40 years marriage seems too long, what can people expect from their workplace? How can employers keep their employees motivated? What kind of financial compensation would or would not minimize the enthusiasm of staff members? What are the main challenge everyone faces in a lifetime of work?

In his inspirational TED Talk, Dan Ariely – James B. Duke professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, approaches this interesting subject for everyone above school age: What makes us feel good about our work?

Leaving the simplistic view behind, that the only motivation at work depends on the amount of money earned, Ariely is offering valuable insights into the topic, after conducting numerous studies in the field.

Through a nice metaphor, he outlines the idea that people are not only driven by the pursuit of happiness or by the thirst of money. People expect something else when they wake up in the morning. They look for a challenge, for a way to improve, to innovate and to create, add value and, last but not least, they expect to be appreciated.

At a certain point, his research was based on people’s performance related to the consideration they benefit from. Results have shown that by only allowing a personal touch and acknowledging merit, employees’ efficiency can dramatically improve, while also increasing their involvement and motivation.

In addition to this, studies also show that when people work on something really hard, they become emotionally attached to their work and tend to expect others to do the same. The greater the effort required, the greater the satisfaction felt when succeeding.

This TED Talk is a must for employers and employees alike in order to understand what the secret key to success is, and what approach can make people feel good every day for the upcoming 40 years in the labor market!


Dan Ariely, who is a James B. Duke professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, and the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight, as well as the co-founder of BEworks (a company applying behavioral economics to business and policy challenges), tackles the issue of work and more than that, of the relationship that we have with our work. Video source: D. Ariely (2012), The key to feeling good about our work, TED Talks
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