"If you can't trust me when I say I have the flu, why are you letting me engage with customers, define budgets, and access internal documents?"
This is an excellent point, made by The Motley Fool co-founder Tom Gardner in a recent article co-authored with Morgan Housel. Abandoning your sick-pay and vacation-pay policies is just one of the prescriptions that Gardner and Housel have for what has become an epidemic in corporate America: half your employees hate their jobs.
This statistic, which comes from an oft-referenced Gallup survey, is so horrendous that it is difficult to believe. Therefore, Gardner and Housel provide a helpful analogy:
Imagine a 10-person bicycle. This means that three people are pedaling, five are pretending to pedal, and two are jamming the brakes. That's you, corporate America. Now scale that bike higher. 520 out of every 1000 employees don’t care. 180 are trying to sabotage the place. 300 are left doing their darnedest.
That's a pretty bleak picture, so it is refreshing to see a list of suggestions about how this situation might be remedied. Let's see how Gardner and Housel do...
If you are trapped in a cubicle, sedentarily, 8-10 hours a day, and you are sane, there is a good chance you would hate your job. Therefore, Gardner and Housel suggest three things. First, build a culture of trust. If an employee needs to take half a day off, let them have it, and know that this move will "pay for itself several times over."
Second, "make your office a place someone would actually want to spend time." Not a bad idea. But also recognize that more and more work is being done remotely during off-hours. Gardner and Housel say you need to give your workforce credit for this.
Lastly, Gardner and Housel suggest allowing your employees to craft their dream job description - redefining their work to "better fit their passions and talents -- passions and talents the employer probably didn't know existed."
This last suggestion is potentially the most powerful idea. As Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, tells Big Think, if you feel like you make a difference when you go to work, you tend to be happy. If you don't feel like you make a difference, you tend to feel miserable.
In the video below, derived from a lesson on Big Think Edge, the only forum on YouTube designed to help you get the skills you need to be successful in a rapidly changing world, Kanter likens the process of finding job satisfaction to solving a Rubik’s cube: "You twist and try to get the colors right until you get everything in perfect alignment."
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