“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
At one point or another, we’ve all heard Confucius’ well-known saying. And while it’s undoubtedly true – especially among people working in mission-driven careers – almost as common as the quote are the stories of employees who don’t love their jobs. Maybe the doting feelings they once had for their employer have fizzled out, or maybe they’re in a role that doesn’t exactly rev their engines every morning. Whatever the case, unhappy, disengaged employees are killing the companies they work at.
It may seem futile to try and turn those negative feelings around. Can you really help Jim in accounting love his job if he always dreamed of being a painter? Maybe not, but you can help Jim love the company he works for – and that’ll make all the difference.
It goes beyond just the job
Earlier this year, we conducted a survey of more than 1,000 full-time employees (not our members) in the U.S. and Canada to find out how they really feel about their employers and work, and how it’s affecting their well-being and performance on the job.
Wondering what employees really love about their jobs? Spoiler alert – it wasn’t necessarily their specific job function that drove positive sentiment, but rather clear components of company culture that took the cake.
1. They love to take on a challenge. One of the top reasons employees love their jobs? Interesting and challenging work, according to the 53 percent of survey respondents who ranked this as the No. 1 reason they love their companies.
Everyone has aspects of their job they may be less than thrilled about (I’m looking at you, spreadsheets), and those things will always need to get done. So while your employees are plugging away at what might be more mundane day-to-day work, be sure you’re engaging them in new challenges and opportunities. Give them the kind of projects that tap their existing skill sets and help them grow or uncover new ones, and you’ll drive their overall job satisfaction.
2. They love who they work with. A supportive manager or a close colleague can be the difference between a disgruntled employee and one who thrives. According to our survey, 40 percent of respondents said their co-workers were the top reason they loved their company. Sixty percent said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their focus and productivity, and another 40 percent said it positively impacts their stress.
Create a culture that makes it easy for employees to bond and work collaboratively. Encourage managers to keep the lines of communication open with employees, allow people from different departments to work on projects together, or even roll out a lunchtime intramural team.
3. They love the mission. If our buddy Jim from accounting is working at an organization that aims to improve the lives of the local community, it may not even matter that he doesn’t love crunching numbers. That’s because, according to 38 percent of respondents, a company’s mission tops why they love where they work.
Like Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson suggests, use your business as a force for good. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to revise your organisation’s mission statement, either. Instead, set up programs that help people give back. Align with a local non-profit or consider giving employees a day off to volunteer.