There’s a serious epidemic hitting us these days. Spreading mercilessly, extremely violent, and sometimes fatal.
I’m willing to bet $100 that it’s affecting you directly or indirectly at this very moment. It’s almost impossible to avoid.
It’s actually quite simple, people hate their jobs.
People are increasingly and deeply unhappy with the mere thought of stepping foot into their workplace every morning.
It’s a viral epidemic, and I’m ready to bet real money that you’ve listened to at least one person in your immediate entourage talk about it in the past month, with comments like “I can’t take my job anymore”, or “my boss is really starting to get on my nerves”.
I have a feeling this trend tells you something obvious.
A Typical Day
Before the work week even begins, your weekend ends with the usual Sunday Blues, manifesting themselves as stomach pains because you know Monday is right around the corner.
On the following Monday morning, you have the worst wake-up of your life, and your first thought is “Yuck, another week is starting”.
Each morning, you endure 2 hours of traffic to make your way into an incredibly miserable environment: decor that makes your eyes bleed, uncomfortable chairs, ugly cubicles, and wall-to-wall grey carpeting.
You toil away for an unpleasant boss. The type of boss that’s proud of being a boss, who wants everyone to know he’s the boss, and who will do everything in his power to make sure you know that you’re not the boss.
At noon, you unwrap the same damned sandwich you’ve eaten for years, and sometimes you’re lucky enough to have last night’s leftovers as the high point of your day.
Every day consists of the same monotonous tasks, and you’re surrounded by colleagues that are just as jaded as you are.
You work with tools from the 90s, because your company never has the budget to update them.
Even worse, there is never enough budget to bring your ideas to fruition. Most of the time, they’re ignored anyway.
You have no idea where your career is headed.
You’re constantly asking yourself if you’ll have the means to pay your mortgage in the distant future, or maybe even have a little money left over to travel.
You can’t remember the last time you learned something new.
You never get any feedback, and you’re not even sure if you’re good at what you do.
After all these years, you still don’t understand your organization’s mission.
Your work brings absolutely no value to your life and, every day that passes, you ask yourself what you’re still doing there – but you don’t have the courage to take action. You keep telling yourself that your situation is normal and, unfortunately, you’re probably right.
There’s no nice way of putting this: the situation is simply catastrophic.
It comes as no surprise that 88% of people admit to having no passion whatsoever about their work. That’s a hell of a lot of people that come in to work on a Monday morning already thinking of the upcoming weekend.
Each year, more than 500 billion dollars are thrown away due to unengaged employees.
That’s an insane amount of money.
Why has it come to this? Well, I’ll tell you what I think.
First of all, organizations develop visions that are way too short-sighted. Build something really fast to sell even faster. It all looks good on the outside. The problem with this model is that organizations are willing to do no matter what it takes to get where they want to go, and the majority of the time it’s the employees who pay the biggest price.
They’re constantly and desperately squeezing the lemon to increase next week’s stock value, instead of showing patience and making the right decisions that will increase their stock for the right reasons.
All too often, large enterprises have missions that serve only to make shareholders richer. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t inspire or motivate me one bit.
The problem with short-sighted visions is that they often exclude the human factor, and organizations tend to forget that behind the scenes of their success hide human beings.
Businesses that are willing to pull their heads out of the sand and recognize the importance of investing long-term into the happiness of their employees, are businesses that will change the world and, in turn, become even richer.
Secondly, there are way too many bad managers. Would it surprise you if I said that 75% of employees leave their jobs for precisely this reason? It’s pathetic.
Too many people improvise as managers, and really have no idea what they’re doing.
We can’t really blame them, though. Most of them haven’t been trained for the role, probably don’t have the necessary tools to be an effective manager, and often haven’t even asked to be in a position of authority.
They simply accepted because they felt it was the logical next step in advancing their careers. Managing human relations is extremely complex; it’s not intuitive, and one can easily lose themselves.
Finally, an extremely outdated mentality is commonplace throughout the job industry: Work is serious business, and working hours are not the time to have fun.
People are forced to wear a mask each morning upon arriving to work, and removing it once they get back home in the evening. Why?
Because companies discourage mixing your professional life with your personal life. Why not just be yourself all the time? If this was the case everywhere, there would undoubtedly be less politics within organizations.
The art of looking good, never losing face in front of others, always watching our backs, and being careful what we say, as well as who we say it to.
Can you imagine the stress that comes with all of this?
Additionally, this outdated mentality views employees as replaceable resources, and thinks that decisions must absolutely come from the top of the pyramidal hierarchy; that time sheets are more important than concrete results; that processes must never be deviated from; that work can only be done while seated at a desk between 9 and 5; that mistakes are unacceptable; and that the sole mission of their organization is to make shareholders richer.
Work like a dog, and make sure you have absolutely zero fun. You’re going to earn your weekend, your summer vacations, and your nice little retirement.
Put it this way: the morale of the majority of members of the workforce is a complete disaster.
You’ve no doubt experienced heartbreak in your life. You remember the lack of energy that followed? How you didn’t feel like doing anything, everything was just that much more difficult, and you felt that there was absolutely no way out?
These days, it’s as though society, as a whole, goes to work in a heartbroken state of mind. Do you really believe that we’ll make the most out of a person’s potential in such an unsustainable climate?
The impact is enormous.
Less productivity, which directly impacts an organization’s financial performance.
Less innovation, which cripples a company’s future and puts their very survival at risk.
Insanely high turnover rates. Employees simply pass through organizations, never sticking around long enough to contribute anything of value.
Unhappy clients. How can you make clients happy if you yourself aren’t even happy?
Elevated absenteeism. Employees do everything in their power to find ways to avoid going into work.
Impacts on family life. People build up stress throughout their days, then involuntarily unleash it on their loved ones.
We’ve reached the point where a paycheck every two weeks has become the only motivation.
People are unhappy and dream of nothing more than escaping the chaos of their jobs. All in all, organizations are simply failing to unite people around major projects, and society as a whole is suffering. Very sad.
This situation is in desperate need of change. The solutions are out there. There are organizations that push creativity to higher levels in order to motivate their employees. Here are just a few crazy examples!
Unlimited vacation policy. This is something we put into place at GSOFT. The idea behind this? You’re telling me I should trust my team to work on huge projects for major clients around the world, but I shouldn’t trust them enough to let them decide how much vacation time is enough to recharge their batteries?
The best part is that people don’t even take more vacation time. However, they feel in control of their lives and their well-being, and that’s what is most important.
Trips paid by your employer. Why? In order to force people to take vacations while enabling them to discover new countries, experience new cultures, and learn new languages. You come back to work invigorated, refreshed, and with a head full of new ideas.
A daycare at the office so you can see your kids more often, and you don’t need to run to a private daycare every evening. Your life just becomes that much simpler.
A gym or rock climbing wall right in your office, to keep you in shape. At GSOFT, we decided to build a skateboard ramp! Why not? :)
Breakfasts, fruit baskets, and lunches provided every day. Some organizations even have their own head chef.
A keg of beer that can be accessed at all times. A fresh, cold beer is always nice, isn’t it?
At GSOFT, we have our very own café equipped with an actual full-time barista. Good coffee contributes to our workplace happiness.
At Google, they’ve replaced a stairway with a slide, in order to facilitate circulation from one floor to another. Personally, I’m skeptical of its usefulness, but I can’t help smiling every time I see it.
Crazy ideas aren’t what we’re missing here, and we could go on about this for hours. I can already feel you coming to me, saying that not everyone has the means to offer these advantages to their employees.
I agree with you 100%, and the truth is that the specific advantages I’ve mentioned actually make very little difference. Yes, people love them and, yes, it’s important to offer these types of things when you have the financial means, but these aren’t what make the biggest difference.
Do you actually think the programmer at Google wakes up motivated every morning because there’s a slide waiting for him at the office? Not at all! He’s motivated because his work gives him a sense of contributing to something much bigger than himself, and he feels like he’s changing the world.
The other day, my great friend Daniel Benoni spoke to me about the parallels he drew between couple life and employee engagement.
You can buy your girlfriend all the gifts in the world, and she’ll be super happy at the moment.
But can you rely on just that to build a solid relationship? Obviously not. On the opposite side, if you constantly tell her you love her, that she’s beautiful, that she’s important to you, that she makes a difference in your life, that you highlight her good moments, and tell her nicely about her not-so-good moments.
In this context, do you believe you have a chance to build a strong long-term relationship? Absolutely. Know this, great employee engagement follows a similar pattern.
I’m only 30 years old and still have a lot to experience in life, but I understood the fundamental basics of workplace happiness.
Having a vision, a mission, and inspiring values. People want to hang on to something bigger than themselves, and they want to know where the ship is headed.
Set clear goals for everyone. When people wake up in the morning, they want to know what they need to accomplish in order to advance their careers and contribute to the growth of their organization towards its mission.
Regularly give feedback. You have no idea how thirsty people are for feedback. They want to know what they do well, what they do wrong, and what they need to improve upon.
Constantly highlight achievements. People need to be acknowledged. You should always congratulate success, and never be afraid to do it in front of everyone.
Listen to what people have to say. I always tell my team that everyone holds a piece to the solution, and to find the best solution you need to listen to everyone. People want to feel that you’d fight for their ideas.
Show interest in people, their lives, their dreams, and their passions. Work isn’t the only thing that counts.
Trust your employees. You need to trust that people will make the right decisions and, worst case scenario, make mistakes. Creating an environment where mistakes are acceptable is absolutely crucial.
There are very few few mistakes that have the power to completely destroy an entire organization. Most mistakes are minor, and are worth being experienced. Mistakes are the only way we can effectively learn and progress in life.
Most importantly, always remind people of the “why”. People will give even more effort of they know why they’re doing something, and this is often the difference between those who love and those who hate their jobs.
So how much does everything I just mentioned cost to implement? Absolutely nothing.
What’s the impact? More employee engagement, a healthier work environment, higher productivity, better retention, more innovation, a greater profit margin, and most importantly, more happiness in the lives of people at work.
I ask you this: Why can’t employee happiness become a measure of success as important as profits? On your death bed, what do you most want to be proud of? Having generated millions of dollars while taking advantage of your employees, or having had a positive impact on the lives of the people that surround you, while generating millions of dollars?
Leaders at the head of organizations need to seriously ask themselves this question, and start contributing to a change in mentality.
My name is Simon De Baene, and my mission on this planet is to revolutionize the job industry. I want to influence organizations, in Quebec and around the world, to place the highest importance on employee happiness, and I invite you to join this revolution.
The next time you go into work, I ask that you do one simple thing. Nothing complicated, but it will give you a good idea as to what I’m talking about.
I want you to walk up to one of your colleagues, and tell them with conviction how he has made a difference in your life, as well as that of the organization.
I can guarantee that you’ll completely throw this person off, but you’ll see a little glimmer in their eyes, and they’ll be more motivated than you’ve ever seen for the rest of the day.
Now imagine if all society woke up each morning with that same glimmer in their eyes, but even more intense. In my opinion, this is exactly what will allow us to reinvent the future for the better.
We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.Notorious BIG