Founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., Carson Tate, explains how to find meaning and happiness at work.
Work has fundamentally and radically changed. Now is the time to rethink the framework of your relationship with your employer. It is a social contract and both parties are responsible for the vitality of the relationship. Identify what you require now to be professionally fulfilled, engaged and happy at work. And, define the meaning in your work.
Rethink the framework of the employer- employee relationship.
The employer- employee relationship is a social contract. And, as a social contract it can be described in terms of social exchange theory, which proposes that social behavior is the result of an exchange process. It is about give-and-take or balance and reciprocity.
Social exchange suggests that it is the valuing of the benefits and the costs of a relationship that determines whether we chose to continue a social association. The exact same thing happens in your relationship with your employer.
In healthy relationships, both parties evaluate the benefits and costs of the relationship.
Clarify what you need to be gratified and fulfilled at work. Then invite your manager to participate in a thoughtful conversation about how to create a mutually beneficial way to work that supports both of you in achieving your goals.
Determine what you require now to be professionally fulfilled, engaged and happy at work.
It is time to stop waiting, hoping or praying for your employer to fix how and why you work. Change starts with you. However, you must know what you want and need to be more fulfilled, stimulated and joyful at work.
Define your recognition, job design, and career development wants and needs by answering the questions below.
- How do you want to receive affirmation, recognition and praise in a virtual environment when you can’t get a “great job” as you walk past your manager’s office on your way to the breakroom?
- Do you want a thank you via email, public praise on a team call or time with your manager brainstorming a new approach to deal with your challenging client?
- Job Design
- Do you need more flexibility in your schedule because your children are learning at home or you are caring for a parent or relative?
- How can you leverage your strengths to create the flexibility you need?
- Can you explore an alternative work schedule? For example, your workday might begin early, pause mid-day and then resume in the late afternoon or evening.
- Career Development
- What are your career goals?
- Can you use the time you used to spend commuting to and from work to develop or refine a skill to set you apart from your peers or advance in your career?
- Can you take an online course, attend a virtual conference or conduct an informational interview with a thought leader in your industry?
Define the meaning in your work.
Meaning is not controlled by what happens in your life. It is made by your interpretation of the events in your life. Meaning is what you bring to the table. It is uniquely yours. No one can define it for you. The value and importance of your work is defined by you.
To identify the value in your work, think about the context of work in your life. For example, work is a paycheck, or it’s a higher calling or it’s a form of creative expression. You can find your worth in your work through your interactions with other people by being on a team united around a common purpose or expressing common values and beliefs. Substance can be found in the context or nature of the work, the tasks you perform, the organization’s mission or commitment to the environment, sustainability or community service.
This is a new world of work. Now is the time to shape your work so that it works for you.