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Would you quit your job if you won the lottery?

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Would you quit your job if you won the lottery?
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Survey results may surprise you

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Lottery tickets clenched in hands. Eyes trained on the numbered lottery balls in motion like popcorn popping. Mind solely fixed on this thought:

"If I win this one, I'll be rich enough to quit my job."

Rich enough to quit, but would you? Most people would keep working, even if those lottery balls lined up in their favor, says a Harris Poll survey released today. Just over half — 51 percent — of workers said they would continue to work, even if they didn't need the money, said the poll done for the Chicago-based CareerBuilder, a global human resources company focused on recruitment. That means 49 percent would hand in their resignations. (Of that number, 2 percent said they would skip the formality, and just never show up to work again.)

While the number of those who said they would continue working was only slightly higher than the number who said they would call it quits, the survey results contradict long-held beliefs about lottery winners. After claiming winnings, so it is commonly told, the next stop is to the job — preferably in a limousine — delivering this message: "You won't be seeing me around here anymore." This fantasy has at least been a fleeting thought of many who have purchased lottery tickets.

"Most of us tend to say: 'If I win the lottery, I'm out of here," said Elad Granot, an assistant dean of MBA programs and an associate professor of marketing at the Monte Ahuja College of Business at Cleveland State University. "Well, it is not that simple."

The meaning work holds for many complicates matters, said Granot, who is familiar with lottery-related surveys from his specialty in consumer behavior.

"Work for many people, especially those who would label themselves as engaged workers or engaged employees is more than money," he said. "Certainly money is important, but there are a lot of other aspects and elements that play a huge role in why we work. For instance, relationships, achievement and status needs go beyond money."

Nahla Harik-Williams, an associate professor of psychology at Cuyahoga Community College, agrees.

"When you think about the role that a job has in a person's life, it is often a huge part of who you are," she said. "We define ourselves many times in terms of our job. Many of us — especially in the United States, if we are fortunate enough or financially able to go to college — are encouraged to find some way of contributing to society, to make our life feel meaningful through our work."

Matt Tarpey, a career advisor for CareerBuilder, said even though winning the lottery is about landing big bucks, finding out people's thoughts about money wasn't the motivation for having the survey done.

"We saw it as a new way to approach the question of: 'Why do people work?'" he said in an email. "Obviously financial concerns are a driving factor, but what if money suddenly became no object?" 

The survey found that while winning the Powerball, Mega Millions, etc. was the realization of a dream for many, money couldn't satisfy the non-monetary gains work brings.

"I would be bored if I didn't work," was the first place answer, given by 77 percent of respondents, as to why they would keep working. Coming in a close second, at 76 percent, was, "Work gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment."

Third place, at 42 percent, was, "I want financial security aside from the financial winnings." Fourth, at 23 percent, was, "I would miss co-workers."

The online survey of 3,372 full-time, private sector workers at least 18-years-old, was conducted between May 13 and June 6. With a 95 percent probability, the survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 1.69 percentage points.

Tarpey said the survey showed that younger workers were more apt than their older counterparts to quit their jobs. Sixty-nine percent of workers 18 to 24 said they would keep working. For those 25 to 34, it was 61 percent. The figure fell to 52 percent for workers 35 to 44. Of those 45 to 55, only 45 percent wanted to keep working. For workers 55 and older, only 41 percent of workers said they would remain employed.

The survey found that those in the Midwest were among the workers who were least likely to want to remain on the job. Forty-eight percent of Midwesterners said they would keep working. In the Northeast, where only 47 percent said they would keep working, was the only region where a lower percentage of people wanted to remain in the labor force. In both the South and the West, 53 percent said they would keep working.

Harik-Williams said the survey's results confirm how Americans value work.

"There is this idea that I want to do something productive and useful," she said. "It is ingrained in us."

Even being rich enough not to work couldn't get many American workers to give up the  goal of finding the job that is a perfect fit. While more than half said they would keep working, only 30 percent said they would keep their current jobs. In fact, only 15 percent said they were in their dream job. With such low numbers for liking the jobs they were in, one would predict these workers would be candidates for leaving the labor force all together. But even though they wouldn't have to work, they still valued holding a job. Thirty-six percent say that while they hadn't found their dream job yet, they believed they would — someday.

Harik-Williams said Americans so highly valuing work was something to admire as well as to be a little concerned about.

"Our work is clearly important to us, but we must be careful not to emphasize the role of work in our lives to the exclusion of things like health and self-care," she said. "One must feel a sense of meaning in life besides work. Volunteerism and other kinds of worthy types of activity are examples."

So instead of continuing to work, these hypothetical lottery winners should have considered valuable activities they could have engaged in other than holding a job, Harik-Williams said.

Granot said while this survey was consistent with other polls in which workers were asked what they would do if they won the lottery, their answers may not indicate how respondents really would act if they won. He said research shows people often do poorly at predicting how they will behave in certain circumstances. Granot gave the example of a survey in which customers had been asked before they went into a fast-food restaurant what they planned to order.

"The largest portion of respondents said something along the lines of a salad and a diet Coke," he said. "Then there were people observing inside as they were making their orders. As you can guess, that wasn't how it really played out."

"It wasn't that there was lying going on," Granot said. "They really had the intention of staying healthy. It is just that things don't necessarily play out as we had expected."

But he said one thing about the survey couldn't be debated. We need more than money in helping to define who we are and helping to give meaning to our lives.

"I am not belittling money," he said. "I am a business professor. But there is more to life than money.

"Can you imagine?" he joked.

Plain Dealer

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89 comments. Last comment 2 days ago by THRIFTY.
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irish78's avatar - Rowlf

United States
Member #127479
May 2, 2012
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Posted: July 18, 2014, 9:21 am - IP Logged

I would definitely quit my job, but I would not quit working. A major win, you would have to lay low for a while, and relocate (if your name gets published). Slowly, after enough time has gone by, start working again. This time I would be working for fun, or something I really want to do, not what pays the bills (barely). Got to keep active.

    Avatar
    New Member
    boston , ma
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    July 18, 2014
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    Posted: July 18, 2014, 9:21 am - IP Logged

    If I won the lottery , i would open my own store. so i guess that is still working. So does that mean that i wouldn't quit my job? or are you talking about a job where I worked for a company that I didn't own?

      joker831's avatar - Trek COMBADG3.gif
      Tucson, Arizona
      United States
      Member #63404
      July 27, 2008
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      Posted: July 18, 2014, 9:54 am - IP Logged

      Would definitely quit working.  Why work when you don't have to?  I would be free to pursue a LOT of other, more interesting things than having to show up to a job that barely pays the bills.  Travel, explore other countries, meet new people, learn about new cultures, indulge my hobbies.  I would have way more things to do than I could ever get done with the rest of my life.  I have a LOT of other interests.  Work isn't one of them.  It's simply a necessity, nothing more.

      The possibilites are endless.... might as well start at the begining

        RedStang's avatar - mustangstu zps4c591ef5.jpg
        Dutchess , NY
        United States
        Member #121966
        January 21, 2012
        2526 Posts
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        Posted: July 18, 2014, 9:54 am - IP Logged

        Once i get the check, see ya. There's plenty to keep me busy.

          Nikkicute's avatar - nnjx1k
          RIGHT HERE!!
          United States
          Member #123295
          February 17, 2012
          2094 Posts
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          Posted: July 18, 2014, 9:55 am - IP Logged

          If I won the lottery , i would open my own store. so i guess that is still working. So does that mean that i wouldn't quit my job? or are you talking about a job where I worked for a company that I didn't own?

          That's what I was thinking. To write most wouldn't quit working doesn't mean they wouldn't quit their

          current job they have. You can quit your job and still work.

           

          Most jackpot winners stories I remember reading, they quit their job.

          Or the winners I've seen on that show "Lottery Changed My Life" they're doing their own

          thing to keep busy.

            noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
            Bay Area/ California
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            December 12, 2012
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            Posted: July 18, 2014, 10:33 am - IP Logged

            Once i get the check, see ya. There's plenty to keep me busy.

            I Agree!

            My path is Clear as crystal as to where l am heading. 

              sully16's avatar - sharan
              Listens to the wind

              United States
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              October 28, 2009
              18769 Posts
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              Posted: July 18, 2014, 10:43 am - IP Logged

              I already had my employer cut me down to 2 days a week, quit, you bet!

              I think I would devote money and time to helping Vets and their families.

              There's only one US Flag

                Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                Zeta Reticuli Star System
                United States
                Member #30470
                January 17, 2006
                8930 Posts
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                Posted: July 18, 2014, 10:46 am - IP Logged

                What the report didn't mention was how co-workers would treat a jackpot winner.

                Also, what people say they would do and what they actually do after something like that can be quite different.

                Sidenote:

                It's said that one of the most common times people have heart attacks is Monday mornings.........some people dread going back to work after their days off that their bodies actually shut down on them.

                Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                Lep

                There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                  Win$500Quick's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                  Florida
                  United States
                  Member #77815
                  August 1, 2009
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                  Posted: July 18, 2014, 10:49 am - IP Logged

                  Yes!

                  Don't hate the player, hate the game!

                    Avatar
                    OHIO
                    United States
                    Member #4164
                    March 27, 2004
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                    Posted: July 18, 2014, 10:49 am - IP Logged

                    Yes, and would volunteer time in a soup kitchen............. I love to cook.

                    "I am what I am by the grace of God."

                    Kitfany

                    http://www.ohiolottery.com/

                      Avatar

                      Canada
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                      March 10, 2014
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                      Posted: July 18, 2014, 11:09 am - IP Logged

                      I'd try and keep it quiet and continue working. Sad i know.

                        rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                        Texas
                        United States
                        Member #55889
                        October 23, 2007
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                        Posted: July 18, 2014, 11:12 am - IP Logged

                        What the report didn't mention was how co-workers would treat a jackpot winner.

                        Also, what people say they would do and what they actually do after something like that can be quite different.

                        Sidenote:

                        It's said that one of the most common times people have heart attacks is Monday mornings.........some people dread going back to work after their days off that their bodies actually shut down on them.

                        Very true. Where I work, there would be hard feelings if I won and kept working. I sell furniture, commission sales. So I know that there would other sales people saying "why is he taking ups that I could have, and taking sales that I need?"

                        I would definitely retire. I'm 60, so I would just fish, and travel, and enjoy life if I ever get so lucky.

                        CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

                        A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

                          maringoman's avatar - kobold
                          Massachusetts
                          United States
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                          April 14, 2006
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                          Posted: July 18, 2014, 11:58 am - IP Logged

                          How could you seat there in your work station taking b.s.orders from your moody boss when you know you don't have to? People who say they'd keep working as employees sure got jokes

                          It's a futile effort.

                            ThatScaryChick's avatar - AbnSTiA

                            United States
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                            November 21, 2007
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                            Posted: July 18, 2014, 12:25 pm - IP Logged

                            Yes. I have lots of hobbies that I would invest my time in.

                            "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."