Well, if you feel this way you are not alone. Majority of the work population feels this way. A famous global poll, which you might have come across, conducted by Gallup has uncovered that out of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% of people are engaged at work. That means that an astonishing 85% of people are unhappy in their jobs. Now, we can debate about the actual percentage and what do each of us define as happiness, etc., but the fact is that a huge part of today’s work force are simply unfulfilled in their jobs. Should we all be happy and giddy all day at work? No, that is not realistic, but let’s aim for at least 85% of job satisfaction.
One reason that work is boring is because we typically take part in repetitive work tasks and activities every day, it might be a bit more challenging from time to time but overall, it is the same. We grow in our careers as specialists in particular areas of work because that is what we are told we need to do in order to make a living and be successful. The job market simply does not give us options to diversify our skills in one job. Furthermore, if we stay with the same company for many years, it becomes predictable and…well boring. The thing is we are not meant to do the same thing over and over again. When we were kids, we were curious and we would try many things, we would explore, and play different characters, etc. As we grew up, finished school, chose a major (for a career we typically had no insights or experience in), got our first paycheck and got hooked as responsibilities rose and our fear of change and taking risks rose with it. AND, because this is how majority of us feels, we have accepted it as the norm and work is work – it not meant to fulfill you and how ridiculous it is to think that you can actually be super excited to wake up and go to work each day. Right?
To me this is hard a hard concept to accept.
I see there are 2 responsible parties here: 1 is the individual and 2 is the company.
From a company perspective, it completely makes sense. You keep specific people in specific roles because that is how we best function in terms of productivity and just getting things done. Each person is a turning wheel of a bigger operating machine which runs the business. This is how work was designed to ensure productivity and smooth operations. It is simply not beneficial for companies to allow people to explore different areas, partake in alternative work or passion projects.
From an individual side, you finish a degree, you get a job, you grow in that job, you have stability and security. Both sides are happy, right? Well, not so much. Because if that was the case then why do we have over half of the working force that is disengaged and disconnected? Why is burnout and anxiety are some of the biggest challenges the world of work faces today? Why, then, are we more depressed and lonelier as a generation than ever before?
What can we do about it?
Considering that we spend over 13 years of our ENTIRE life at work (if we consider a standard life span of 80 years); why would we want to do something that is not only boring but also slowly destroying our physical and mental health?
Yes, there are circumstances such as financial responsibilities, family and other externals impacts that might not give us the space to do what we really enjoy. I am not talking about cases where it is out of someone’s control (note to self: this needs to be a separate article). What I want to discuss is when you actually have a CHOICE. And most of us have that choice, we might not see it and that is where our investment in ourselves comes in – to explore the unknown, to challenge ourselves and to create opportunities for ourselves. When you choose to invest in yourself, that journey for change can take 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or 2 years, etc. It depends on various factors such as your current environment, opportunities, where you are and where you want to be and a gap that might exist. Ultimately it is about what do you choose – to stay where you are and give up control? Or to look at ways you can take charge of your own development and create your own future?
Jobs are no longer secure or stable. Job security is not what it was for previous generations of our parents and grandparents, yet we still operate as it is. You are dispensable, that is an ugly truth. By taking charge of your own learning and growth, you can manage the risk of being dispensable at your work. Furthermore, by choosing to invest in yourself and your future, you are choosing your health – your job should not leave you drained, stressed, weak or sick. Period. This is NOT and should not be the norm. It is simply not worth it. To avoid making this article too long, you can read more about how to take charge of your own learning and development in this article or feel free to reach out for a discussion.
Talent is hard to find. Good talent is a gem that only few companies come across and - long term - struggle to engage and retain. However, there are some unicorns of companies who do quite well in this area, more on this later. Regardless what industry you are in, as new generations enter the job market/world of work accelerates, your organization will have to adapt and start to create an environment where employees can flourish and maintain their well-being as well. Otherwise, you will hard a hard time attracting creative, dedicated and intrapreneurial talent that companies are competing for. When you help you employees find meaning in their work that gets them exciting every morning, as a side effect you will boost morale and engagement. A recent survey
If you are looking for some idea of how you can better engage your employees, here are some companies that incorporate different strategies to keep their teams creative, engaged, and integrating different side projects into their employees’ lives.
· Capital One – introduced hackathons to help employees take parts in passion projects on company time. It also allows employees to practice new skills, get creative, and even come up with solutions for the company.
· Adobe – supported over 1000 experiments through it Kickbox program – providing employees with opportunities to take part in entrepreneurship programs
· 3M and Google encourage their employees to spend 20% of their time working on creative projects, which led to some of the biggest innovations in their businesses.
Will these initiatives guarantee that people will stay longer? We don’t know. Only time will tell. However, you will build a more creative, healthy, and productive workforce that can drive your business and maintain a competitive edge.
The future of work and business will require us to collectively to do better, as organizations and as employees; otherwise, we might just end up with generation of robots and under-utilized talents.