Right vs, Wrong

Linked: Workplaces are in denial over how much Americans have changed

When you look at the survey results, you see things like this numerically. What people want from work and how they have decided work should fit into their lives is not only different than it was 2 years ago, but it’s different for each of us as individuals.

“The tragedies of the last two years have woken us up from our work-obsessed culture. Many of us have realized it’s OK for work to be merely a paycheck – the way to buy enough freedom to spend our time how we’d like. Perhaps that means taking better care of ourselves or those around us. Others may want more meaning in their work – for the world to be in a slightly better place after we’ve worked 40 hours. And if America can’t support these desires, we’ve realized that it’s not because we’re broken; it’s because America is.

Ultimately, when workers were polled how they feel about work, nearly a quarter of Americans said they want a job with “more purpose” and one in five said they want to step back and “focus on their personal lives”.”

It’s not just the contradiction in terms of some people wanting to do more meaningful work versus wanting to just have a job and a more meaningful personal life, also it’s the people who want more money to do the things they want to do outside of work versus more flexibility, in either hours or location.

Basically, any group of employees is likely to have some kind of mish-mashed combination of desires. Trying to fit everyone back into one model will force some of your team to move on to something else. They are human beings that come with a lot of their own reasons for wanting to do the things they do. There is no “one” way forward for all of your employees.

As Anne Helen Pederson recently wrote in The Expanding Job, we all come to work with a mental load that includes not just work but family and everything else that is part of being a human being. Those loads are different, but we all have them. We all have things we need to do outside of work, but the workplace was built for a world where there was always someone else to do that work. There was always the assumption that there was a wife at home to take care of the kids, cook meals, shop, etc. and the worker could focus most of his energy on the job. That world, however, doesn’t exist for the vast majority of people. So what you’ve hired and what you expect don’t match up, and that difference is where the burnout and frustration reside. That’s the part of America that is broken.

Is your workplace hiring whole human beings with all that comes with, or imaginary people with very few outside commitments? The truth is you are hiring the former, but the job might be designed for the latter. That’s a recipe for disaster.


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