This morning I received an article about how HR should be 'tackling the January blues'. The suggested solution was to focus on: incentive schemes, on demand training, financial wellness, flexible working and physical wellness (gym passes and home cooking classes) and then a colleague engagement survey.
The article was well meaning, from the right place but still somehow didn't hit the mark.
Because it is the same approach, in the same format and it will not deliver happier colleagues.
Employee engagement schemes, incentives, colleague surveys: the focus is on external factors.
Yes, while I will take your free fruit and say 'thank you' for the £10 Prezzo voucher, it will not make much difference to how I feel about my job. If I am happy, I'll stay happy. If my job leaves me feeling empty inside no amount of mozzarella fritta will fill that void.
What is missing?
Employee engagement has been missing a step. The focus should initially be inwards not on external variables (bean bags and ping-pong tables, anyone?).
If we, as people, are not in tune with what we really want, how can we accurately assess the real cause of our dissatisfaction?
Here are three questions you can use to begin to understand where you and your fellow colleagues are truly coming from.
1. Are you in the right job?
Be honest with yourself here.
Are you in a compliance role but your strengths really lie in firefighting in a tough relationship management role?
Is your team brilliant yet you still feel flat about going in to the office?
Do you spend more time refreshing your company internal job page than working on your actual job?
Does your enjoyment come more from being creative or is it the rush of achieving your targets that gets you out of bed in the morning?
2. What do you want from your job / career / environment?
Initially most people will say: salary, to be challenged and to be able to develop. This is a great starting point but you need to go deeper than this.
Is it important to you to have freedom over how you carry out your projects and tasks?
Do you like to have a set schedule that you can plan in advance?
Would you prefer to work in large team or do you work best one to one?
Does the challenge of going up through the ranks excite you or do you get more of a buzz from the thought of building your own business?
Are you a leader or a manager? Do you even want to be responsible for others or do you want to immerse yourself in your own projects?
Lively team or mellow and reserved?
3. Who do you think is responsible for your happiness and satisfaction at work?
(This is in addition to having a safe, respectful working environment that everyone has the right to)
The answer to this question very important.
If you know that you are the only one who can control this, your mindset is already in the right place.
If you expect others to make you happy and satisfied in your working life, you will always be at a disadvantage.
Knowing what you truly want and that you are in control of your own satisfaction and fulfilment is a powerful mindset shift.
In the right job? Great, enjoy it!
In the right job but still unhappy? Time to look at those external factors...
In the wrong job and unhappy? Great, now you know where the real issue is and you have a new path opening up for you!
In the wrong job and happy? You have the best of both here. You have complete freedom about your next move. Stay or hunt out what will make you happy at work as well.