Each year the Society for Human Resource Management conducts a survey of employees to find out what factors contribute to their job satisfaction. In theory, the more satisfied employees are the more engaged they might be and the more they might contribute in work performance.
In 2011, the results revealed that in second place for job satisfaction was “Opportunities to use skills/abilities” and tied for fifth was “The work itself”. I find this to be extremely interesting.
Employees seem to be speaking out and saying that what contributes to their ultimate satisfaction and drives their performance has to do with the actual work itself. Not only that, employees are also expressing a desire to use their specific skills and abilities in the work they do to make a contribution that is uniquely theirs to make. The timing here is great, because this is just what is needed for success in the new business normal.
With the emergence of a new business normal, the way work gets done, managers “manage” and people interact to get results is changing every day. Developing new solutions that create value and solve new problems is a business imperative in the new normal, and people are the only resource with the ability to meet this need long term.
This can only occur if people are given the opportunity to become self directed performers who “own” their jobs and performance. The words of Peter Drucker are as relevant today as they were over thirty years ago when he said,
Above all, no one can supervise him. He is the guardian of his own standards, of his own performance, and of his own objectives.
Management must retain a veto power, and will often exercise it. But the responsibility for job design and work group design belongs to those who are responsible for output and performance. And that is the worker and the work group.
Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, 1973
In addition, businesses must continue to make sure that jobs created for people have meaningful work that gives them the chance to connect with a sense of purpose. Purpose is internally driven and represents the “grand” reason of why we work. Purpose is about our desire as human beings to feel a part of something that is bigger than we are.
Purpose can be found best in work that we consider to be meaningful and that gives us a chance to utilize our individual strengths. Meaningful work helps keep people performing in the NOW. That’s when opportunities for innovation and creativity are possible and new solutions for new problems can emerge.
As businesses continue to face fierce competition and an ever changing new normal, it makes sense to listen to what employees are telling us they want. The challenge is how to make this happen. That’s where the businesses with savvy, forward-thinking leaders will come out on top.
Where is your business right now? How do you think your employees would rate “Opportunities to use skills/abilities” and “The work itself”?