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Passion for work lost at age 42

A survey shows 42 is the average age that Britons lose their drive at work

Britons lose passion for their work at an average age of 42, according to research from Paymentsense.

The survey of 2,000 British workers found that in response to the question 'why do you go to work every day?' three-quarters (76%) of those in their 40s said to be able to afford to live. Half (51%) said they needed to work just to pay the mortgage, and 57% cited responsibilities in supporting their families.

Just 11% said they are passionate about their job, and only 14% wanted to build their career.

Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at Centre for Ageing Better, told HR magazine that motivation is important to maintain a sense of purpose. “Generally, wages peak for people around this age, and research suggests your 40s and 50s can be a low point for your personal subjective wellbeing. But most people around this age will be expecting to work for another 25-30 years, so it’s incredibly important that they are able to continue working in roles that keep them motivated and fulfilled," he said.


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"People in later ages have different motivations for work. Apart from the obvious financial incentives, work is a major source of social connection, gives individuals a sense of purpose, and helps to keep people physically and mentally active, which is particularly important as people move into the later stages of their working lives."

Thomson pointed to the importance of training and development and flexible working in keeping older workers motivated. “Given that our workforce is ageing, it is essential that employers put into place practices and policies to ensure people can progress in fulfilling work for the whole length of their working lives," he said.

"This includes opportunities for learning, mentoring, and career development, and offering flexible working practices that support a positive work/life balance. This in turn will promote self-esteem, confidence, engagement and performance across the workforce.”

When it came to employees of all ages, the research found that 72% only go to work to pay the bills. By contrast only 21% said they live to work and are driven by their career. The majority (86%) said money is the most important factor when it comes to their job. However, 72% reported that it is also important to have a good pension scheme and 20 or more holiday days too (79%).

Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense, said he was surprised by the results. “Although money is the biggest motivator, it is shocking to see how many Brits choose money over passion when it comes to working,” he said. “Employers have a certain amount of responsibility for the motivation and wellbeing of the workforce and for a team to function to their best of its ability all members must be fully engaged and committed.”

He warned that a lack of passion among employees can be highly damaging. “Employees losing their motivation or passion for their role can be detrimental to business, therefore employers are advised to really listen and respond to [their] employees’ needs to ensure high levels of engagement throughout [the] company,” he said.

“Spotting the warning signs of a disengaged employee early and addressing them quickly can help encourage retention.”