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The industrial age and consumerism are said to have brought a cult of overworking. Over the past few years, we have been hearing a lot about how we need to stop ‘glamourizing overworking’. Indeed we have been seeing many posts pointing out the long hours that employees put in, the burnout they suffer, and more companies supporting the mental well-being of their employees. This shows a growing need for a change in company culture brought by the growing number of millennials and Gen Zers in the workplace. Millennials and Gen Zers are generally less tolerant of the unhealthy habits and unethical actions of their employers. Yet, the culture of overworking is still very much a reality. Many times, while companies have policies in place, the managers who control the workplace have not changed their ways of working. The biggest excuse some managers give to advocate for overworking is the fallacy of higher pay, which is believed to be the main motivation as well as the main source of job satisfaction.
Often, employers and managers believe that increasing the pay would increase employee job satisfaction. Indeed at first glance, money seems to be the main factor that decides worker motivation and satisfaction. Research, however, suggests that even if people could decide what salary they get paid, they would not enjoy their job more1. It is clear from this study that the level of pay bears a positive, but quite modest, relationship to the job and pay satisfaction. For employees, this implies that ‘individuals would be better off weighing other job attributes more heavily than pay’, while for employers, the results indicate that employers who wish to have more satisfied employees should turn to attributes other than money to raise job satisfaction levels. Moreover, Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory clearly suggests that treating the reasons for the job dissatisfaction does not create satisfaction, they just nullify the dissatisfaction. Among the dissatisfaction, we can find salary, security, working conditions, among others. In order to increase job satisfaction, it would be more beneficial to create conditions for job satisfaction.
According to this abstract, job satisfaction is defined as ‘an individual’s emotional response to his or her current job condition, while motivation is the driving force to pursue and satisfy one’s needs.’ In this article, job satisfaction and motivation are used almost interchangeably. Creating conditions for job satisfaction would hence be the way forward for companies who wish to see higher employee engagement. What drives employees (motivation) to increase their satisfaction?
‘You cannot motivate someone. You can only create an environment that promotes and encourages the employee’s self-motivation4. What are the unmet needs of employees that need to be met? With a workplace consisting of 4-5 generations of people, it is critical for organizations to ensure that they understand their workforce’s needs2. Adopting a multi-generational approach towards employees to foster a team culture would most likely meet most needs of employees.
Create a fun collaborative workplace
I have had the most fun when I have worked in teams. This might not be the case for everyone or for every time I have worked in teams. Nevertheless, with five generations of people in the workplace, it becomes important to focus on creating a sense of community and a sense of belonging. Despite the different preferences of employees, there are 3 elements that all people crave the most in the workplace – respect, purpose, and connections. Working collaboratively in teams, not only allows a better and more efficient distribution of work but also helps extensively with knowledge sharing, feeling confident, and feeling a sense of belonging. With collaboration of people of different backgrounds being the best way to improve teamwork and hence enforces a sense of camaraderie. According to Harvard Business Review, if you really want to improve everyone’s wellness, then create a values-based culture — a culture driven by collaboration and professionalism. A more collaborative workplace is also indicative of higher retention rates as this sets the foundation for a more open culture within the workplace.
Invest in coaching and mentoring
9 in 10 workers who have a career mentor say they are happy in their job. When you first join a company, it might be daunting to start in a new place. You need to adjust to new people, a whole set of new values as well as learning the ropes at the new position. Having a mentor helps to be more self-confident and be more satisfied and happy at the workplace. The mentor also shows lower levels of anxiety and seems to feel more meaningful according to a Harvard Business Review. Although mentoring is different from coaching, providing coaching, even in the guise of a manager, shows that the company values its employees. A coach helps in sharing values, developing transferable skills, creating meaningful connections, creating and working towards set goals, and improving productivity. The organization also benefits from better employee engagement and job satisfaction. A good mentorship program is most of the time restricted to top elite companies, and yet, it seems the most profitable way for companies since it reduces employee turnover rate, builds a positive and inclusive atmosphere, and improves onboarding and engagement. While mentoring might be more difficult to implement successfully, coaching seems more attainable for a company
Career path and training
Most people are interested in future-proof jobs. Companies providing constant training opportunities to upskill their employees allow the latter to live up to their potential and to feel more versatile to adapt to changes around them. With work-from-home and advances in technology, providing training helps employees feel safe that their employers value them and want the best for them. Individuals look for jobs that suit their interests and talents as well as managers who care about them and their career path. This is a follow-up to the previous point about coaching and mentorship. A mentor provides the mentee guidance to make decisions about their career path. But managers and employers need to support these programs by providing career paths to their employees so that they are satisfied. Employers need to evolve and grow with the interests of the employees, otherwise, their employees will find somewhere more suitable to their growing interests.
With the pandemic, we have seen a lot of people quitting their jobs for various reasons other than money. A job is no longer about paying the bills. The pandemic has shown us that we are mere mortals, and contemplating our death forces us to take stock of our lives and reprioritize. Employees are less likely to accept what they are offered in terms of money as well as other perks like training and development, coaching and a team culture and would demand what they deserve. Organizations and managers need to understand this and foster a company culture that aligns with sustainable values and evolves with their employees.
Edited by Shaymah Ramjan