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Job Fulfillment, Not Work-life Balance

Bottom line: We need to redefine how we think about work. Work-life balance presumes that work is a burden, when it doesn’t have to be. The problem is not what we are trying to accomplish with “work-life balance,” but in how we address it. Instead of work-life balance, why not focus on job fulfillment? Doesn’t that already sound better?

Redefining the way we think

According to a Gallup study, 90% of the world’s workers see work as a source of frustration rather than one of fulfillment. There is a lot of pressure on HR professionals to overhaul their engagement strategies and overcome the notion that work is just a burden. It is no secret that unhappy employees are usually unproductive employees, and that hurts your bottom line. So how do you help make work more fulfilling for your people?

Well, what if we invested more time training our leaders to match the right person to the right job? What if employees were empowered to take ownership and be captains of their own fate?

Who wouldn’t want to hear an employee say “I love my job! I am challenged. I contribute. I add value. My company is awesome!” But how do you motivate your employees to become so engaged? Extensive research has been conducted on this engagement and motivation, and the answers may surprise you (Spoiler: It isn’t just money). So then what are employees looking for in order to be fulfilled? Here are a few answers that provide valuable insight into the minds of today’s workforce.

1. Money is a basic need – Not an incentive

Employees want to get paid or they can’t be expected to enjoy their jobs. The thing to keep in mind when talking money is not how much you’re paying but how efficiently you’re paying employees. Payroll errors significantly impact morale, so avoid this major mistake and pay your employees fairly and pay them well (i.e. accurately and on time).

2. Feedback has huge impact

It is surprising how many executives struggle with communication, and yet it is one of the most important traits employees want from their leaders; open and regular communication. Maybe it’s a little awkward if it is not something you’re used to doing, but communicating frequently and candidly with your workforce will strengthen their trust in you and give you priceless, unexpected insights.

3. Recognition drives motivation

Recognition doesn’t have to be flashy; it could be as simple as saying “thank you.” Where would your company be without your people? They are your most valuable asset, so let them know that. Show appreciation when it is deserved, because people whose work is acknowledged may be as much as 47 percent more productive than those whose work is ignored.

4. Self-actualization fosters fulfillment

Not everyone has the luxury of landing their dream job. Engaged employees find fulfillment in the job they’re doing when there is a culture and environment that fosters support and growth. People are products of their surroundings, and if everything around them is favorable then they tend to be happy and in turn more productive.

As organizational leaders, the challenge to redefining the way people think of work is to first understand employees and what they want. Leaders that take a proactive role in understanding what their employees really want are more likely to succeed.

What are you doing to engage your workforce?