It’s sadly become the norm in the U.S. to hate your job. We complain about working too much, yet we don’t seem to spend enough time doing something about it.
Today’s reality is that we need to focus on attracting and engaging employees over merely “keeping them around.” Businesses need to learn how to appeal to the growing number of millennials in the workforce because, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014, they currently make up over a third of the workforce and that measure will grow to 75% by 2025. So while today you may be getting by with some of the old ways of doing things, failure to adapt will take you out of the running in the near future. Your non-millennial employees deserve the investment, too.
Let’s follow the lead of this NY Times article and look at employee dissatisfaction from the perspective of four basic needs: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual. Do any of these complaints sound familiar?
Work is Exhausting. I Don’t Feel Needed. I’m Bored. My Job is Meaningless.
Imagine if you overheard a conversation amongst your team members and these statements were thrown around—terrible, right? But these are common sentiments about work, so clearly we need to do better. Here are ways to prevent these traps and invest your efforts into fostering a satisfied team.
Work is Exhausting
Sitting at a desk for hours depletes people of energy. Bad office lighting can strain the eyes and also lead to fatigue. Working continuously slows productivity and has negative effects on the body. Plus, a work environment that isn’t designed with employee health in mind can also convey lack of respect.
Encourage employees to take breaks, bonus if they involve physical activity. Taking a break every 90 minutes leads to more focus, greater creativity, and an improvement in health and wellbeing. You double both retention and sense of wellbeing by simply supporting your team in taking breaks to renew energy and focus. (1) Add in a program that promotes short walks around the office or even stretching to compound the physical benefits. The real-time benefits are worth it and the long-term benefit of healthier employees is invaluable.
After that you can get more creative by looking at the success stories of other companies. Maybe try adding a nap room? Investing in ergonomic chairs? Designing the office to let in more sunlight? As long as you’re moving towards a healthier environment, you’re on the right track.
I Don’t Feel Needed
It can be challenging to talk about emotional needs in connection to the workplace because our society has historically been trained to see work as business and only business. But the truth is, if we spend half of our waking time on the job, our emotional needs are incredibly important in the workplace. We need to feel respected by our leaders and teammates and that both our person and our work are valued.
Well, first, value them. If you don’t feel strongly about the value of your team members, spend some time thinking about what they bring to the table and deal with day in and day out. If you find that difficult, maybe think about your hiring practices. Once you’re keyed in to the value of your team, find ways to communicate to your employees that they are valued and important. This Forbes article has four simple tips to get you started.
Employee engagement is a buzzword these days, and for good reason. Employees who aren’t committed and enthusiastic about their work are not happy to start the workday. Engaged employees on the other hand are more productive and more valuable to the company. So if your team struggles with staying engaged, it’s time to address it.
I wrote just recently about 5 Ways to Engage Your Team. Some highlights from that post are to (1) make sure your team members are clear on goals and that they have the tools needed to achieve them; and (2) provide unscheduled feedback in addition to regular sessions. In short, empower them to do a good job and then let them know you appreciate it. Another facet of this is to create a culture that fosters focus. Don’t overload employees such that you force them to multitask, or sacrifice one task for another—that’s a sure recipe for employees that check out.
My Job is Meaningless
We all strive for purpose in life and in work. If we don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing, we’re not likely to enjoy doing it. According to the same NY Times article, this has the biggest impact on workplace fulfillment. Purpose directly affects all of the previous factors, so address this one and you can make headway across the board.
I think the best way to address this concern is to invest time in understanding your employee’s strengths and making sure they get to use them. Clearly communicate the goals of the team and why they are important, and then play to each person’s strengths in how they are able to contribute to those goals. You can find a more detailed resource on MindTools.com.
Taking on some of these changes will collectively result in a more positive corporate culture, and your employees’ satisfaction and fulfillment will contribute directly to your own.
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