Employees’ Orientations to Work

Employees' orientations to work

People perceive ‘work’ differently. For most people, work is a means for their livelihood. It is a means to an end. For some, work is a path to life satisfaction. In fact, work by itself, gives them a sense of fulfillment, happiness and a purpose to their lives. Yet, for others, work is more of a passion; it gives people a sense of self-actualization. in addition, they love to be creative and innovative in their work. Work is an art and they experience a ‘self-identity’ through work.

The way people perceive work influences their involvement with work. Goldthorpe et al identified three main types of orientation to work namely, Instrumental, Bureaucratic and Solidaristic. (Mullins, 2005). According to him, people with an instrumental orientation did not consider work as a central life issue but rather considered it as a means to an end. It was more an economic involvement with work. Further, they differentiated between work-related and non-work related activities.  

On the other hand, those with bureaucratic orientation, perceived work as central to their lives. They were positively involved with their work and had a sense of responsibility or obligation. Moreover, these people had a close link between work-related and non-work related activities.  

Furthermore, people with solidaristic orientation, viewed work situation in terms of group activities. They were more involved with work groups than the organization itself. In fact, there was an ego involvement with work groups. Moreover, for them, work is not merely a means to an end. They related non-work activities to work relationships.

Employees’ orientations to work – Questionnaire

Where do you place your orientation to work?  Would you like to know where your employees stand in relation to orientations to work? Find out using this sample questionnaire developed based on Mullins (2005) description of orientations to work (quoting Goldthorpe et al). This sample questionnaire has eighteen statements (six statements under each type of orientation) on a five-point scale namely, Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree and Strongly Disagree. You may modify the questionnaire to suit your individual research needs.

Click to download questionnaire


Mullins, L.J. (2005). Management and Organizational Behaviour. Seventh Edition. England. Prentice Hall.