My son has a big problem, friends. Ever since school started this fall, he has been plagued by a question; a question he’s then plagued me with at least 20 times a day (no exaggeration.) His problem? He simply does not understand why he has to go to school 5 days a week, and only gets to stay home for 2.
That’s a problem most of us can relate to, right?
I’ve tried to explain to him that we all have jobs to do, and his job is going to school. I’ve also focused on the fact that there is just so much for him to learn, and I’ve tried to point out the positives of school—time with friends, for instance! But of course, no answer will be satisfactory for him if he doesn’t see the value of going to school, and instead sees only an activity that cuts into his playtime. So my job as a parent is obviously to help him find that value.
Any suggestions there?
In all seriousness, his dilemma has got me thinking a lot lately about work/life balance, and about what we all need to find in a work atmosphere in order to be happy going there 5 (or more) days a week. When our work life takes up such a big chunk of our waking hours, we need to see some value in being there—otherwise we’ll spend our days frustrated that we aren’t somewhere else.
Plenty of people work for the weekend, miserable at their jobs but telling themselves it’s worth the money they make. Are those workers ever really happy, though? And are they ever really top performers within their companies?
The answer to both of those questions is “no.” At least, based on what I’ve observed. And some of the responsibility for that falls on the shoulders of the employees; it’s important when you are seeking out a job to look for a position that will truly fulfill you. Because if you aren’t happy, you won’t do your best work. And even more importantly, if you aren’t happy at your job, there is a strong likelihood you won’t be happy with any other facet of your life either.
Finding a good work/life balance is important for your overall well-being, after all.
But just as it is my responsibility to help my son see the value in school, hiring managers and leadership teams also have a responsibility to ensure their employees are feeling valued and fulfilled in the roles they’ve taken on. This isn’t about coddling them; it’s about ensuring you have a team that knows their purpose within your organization, and that feels content in that purpose.
Working towards that goal can affect everything from retention levels (a valued and fulfilled staff is much more likely to have loyalty for the company that makes them feel that way) to production (no one works at their peak level when they aren’t content doing the work they’re tasked to do).
You don’t want a staff of people working for the weekend. You want employees who enjoy their jobs, and are happy to be there when the workweek is in full force.
Accomplishing that is obviously easier said than done. I’m still working on finding that balance for my son, and to be fair for myself some weeks. But all of us have had jobs we’ve loved before, and jobs we’ve hated. So perhaps it starts with asking yourself what it was about the jobs you loved that made that environment so ideal to work within.
Then, it’s about finding ways to replicate that for your employees.
One word of advice? In my experience, acknowledging a job well done can be an amazing first step.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I should probably go congratulate my kiddo on his last spelling test score!
Are We Connected?