Work: Where the Human Spirit Goes to Die

I hate my jobIs your work environment dull and frustrating or engaging and inspiring? Is employee productivity the only meaningful metric in your organization?

On the heels of last week’s flurry of articles about Amazon’s “bruising” corporate culture, recent studies indicate that our workplaces are dismal places to inhabit for us humans.

24/7 Wall Street identified 2014’s worst companies to work for by analyzing employee ratings on The worst? Books-A-Million, with an overall score of 2 on a five-point scale. Only 14% of employees would recommend the company to a friend. 78% of employees think the CEO is doing a lousy job. The company’s culture and values were rated 1.8, the lowest culture score of the “bottom 10” companies.

If workplace inspiration and productivity are equally important, senior leaders must measure, monitor, and reward the quality of workplace interactions and employee treatment, not just the quality of results. Yet that balance is clearly not happening.

A 2015 SHRM engagement study found that the most important job satisfaction factor for employees is respectful treatment of all employees at all levels (rated “very important” by 72% of respondents). Only 33% of employees report experiencing that respectful treatment.

The second most important factor is trust between employees and senior managers, rated “very important” by 64% of respondents. Only 28% of employees experience that trust.

A 2014 New York Times article titled, “Why You Hate Work,” featured insights from three studies by The Energy Project.

These studies found that employees are much more satisfied and productive when four of their core needs are met: physical (by regular opportunities to renew and recharge at work), emotional (by feeling valued for their contributions), mental (by having the opportunity to focus on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done), and spiritual (by doing more of what they do best and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work).

The reality is that these core needs are not being met. One of their studies (of over 12,000 global workers) found that 70% do not have regular time for creative or strategic thinking; only 18% of respondents do. 66% do not have the ability to focus on one thing at a time; 21% do. 50% do not experience meaning and significance at work; 36% do.

The sobering data from all of these sources means leaders have a lot of work to do to create productive, meaningful work environments that also treat employees with trust, dignity, and respect in every interaction.

This data also describes these dismal workplace conditions as “normal.” They are much more prevalent than engaging and inspiring work environments! If leaders are not intentional about both performance and values, their work environments will fall into these norms.

How can leaders build engagement, service, and results and profits? By implementing an organizational constitution that outlines their team or company’s present day purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

If they don’t do that, they’ll get dismal.

What is your experience? How engaging and inspiring is your work environment? How intentional are leaders about civility in your organization? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © lculig – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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