“And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit, And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”
(Kahlil Gibran – The Prophet, 1923)
While Kahlil Gibran was able to wax lyrical about the virtues of work, the majority of employees do not feel this sort of passion for their work. We are more likely to hear “I hate my job,” or “My job is killing me,” than “I love my job and my work fulfils me.”
Modern society tends to define us by what we do for a living; our vocation is a massive part of who we are. We spend so much of our time and the best years of our adult lives working, so it is imperative that we find something that we can love.
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Would you want to be defined by a job that you merely tolerate? Or even despise?
At the same time, we – as a society that holds prestige and money in such high regard – should not push school leavers into fields of study because of financial gain or prestige; they should be encouraged to find something that brings them JOY! They should be reminded of the quote (often attributed to Confucius but there is uncertainty as to its origin) “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
On a recent trip, I had the riveting experience of engaging with someone who clearly LOVED his work. This tour guide had the most infectious passion for what he was doing. He spends every day conveying (I assume) the same information to groups of tourists at a fairly small attraction. Not for one moment did I feel that he was merely reciting what he had been instructed to. Nothing in the way he behaved gave us the impression that he found his job mundane. He made the experience. We hung onto his every word and the magic of the place was only enhanced by his attitude.
This got me thinking… how can we get our employees and colleagues to be this excited about what we do?
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More and more companies have acknowledged the importance of creating a work environment that people productively enjoy and that this is great for the bottom line.
A 2013 report by Gallup Inc. revealed that only 30% of the U.S. workforce is “engaged” in their work — this means that they are passionate about their work and feel strongly committed to their companies. The other 70% percent are either “not engaged” (those who are “checked out,” putting in time but without much energy or passion) or “actively disengaged” (act out on their unhappiness, taking up more of their managers’ time and undermining what their co-workers accomplish).
The report goes on to say that actively disengaged workers are more likely to steal from their organisations, negatively influence co-workers, miss workdays and drive customers away. According to Gallup, active disengagement costs U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year!
So how do we, as HR professionals, motivate or engage our employees, not just in the interests of their productivity and our companies’ bottom lines, but so that they can have that sense of fulfilment and joy?
According to Taylor Smith, American entrepreneur, “Today’s employee needs more than a steady job, good pay, and benefits to love their jobs. They have to see work as a place they enjoy going, where they can work on things that they feel are important, and then feel valued for doing that work.”
We have learned that some of the most effective methods of improving job satisfaction are
- Flexible scheduling which allows staff to take advantage of technology to be able to work from a convenient location and work around the schedule of their family lives;
- Effective management(a topic which has warranted the publication of thousands of books!);
- Employee influence which relates to allowing the employee to have a voice in the organization and allowing creativity. (It is interesting to note that none of the top five methods relates to remuneration!)
- Professional development – employers need to identify the strengths of employees and develop them. A People Accelerator has been introduced at NATIVE VML to drive the capacity of the company by identifying skills gaps and find smart ways to fill them. This person works closely with line managers to challenge, grow and retain great people.
It is better to love your work and earn less money or have to work longer hours than to tolerate a job simply because it is convenient or because it pays well. Loving what you do will be better for the business and better for your own health and wellbeing. And as clichéd as this is, it is worth reminding ourselves of this: If you can’t change your job, change your attitude!
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