What is wrong with the way we work?

Almost all of us derive the meaning of our lives from the work that we engage in and it forms a huge part of our identity. Yes, we do need the pay check at the end of the month. But that’s not the only reason we work right?

It’s easy to notice that if the work we do is not fulfilling enough, every single part of our life is severely impacted.

Work is meant to challenge us, inspire us and make us feel like we are serving a purpose out there. If it fails to do that, it starts to feel like something is really wrong there.

Unfortunately, a large majority of people feel like that every single day!

According to report by Forbes, only 13% of employees globally are actually engaged and emotionally invested in their work.

Frustration from work comes from many things. Long commutes, not enough growth opportunities, lack of good culture within the company… the list goes on.

But there are a few things specifically that are broken about the way we work today that leads to low productivity and motivation levels and a general feeling of dissatisfaction.

No control on your own time

The rule of clocking hours from 9–5 in the workplace has its origin in the industrial age. At that time, most of the work was mechanical and hours determined overall productivity.

However, in today’s time where most work is skill based and technology allows you to work from anywhere, such a rule gives a feeling of being trapped in a building while looking at the watch every now and then.

It just doesn’t make sense when there are just so many things that you would rather do with your time!

When you would rather attend your kid’s football game, spend more time with people who matter to you or enroll for that guitar class you have always wanted to join but can’t because you are never back from office in time to attend them.

When work takes away the freedom to control your own time, it gets frustrating. Can we imagine a better way to work?

Imagine roads that are not jammed because there are no ‘peak hours’. Imagine actually owning your time and living in a way that makes sense to YOU.

Want to make it more exciting? Imagine your day starts with a swim in Bahamas, you have a coffee at your favourite cafe and you are all set for your meeting with team members sitting in Bangalore, Berlin and Austin. You complete your work, go for an afternoon game and come back to answer to your clients in Melbourne and Tokyo. Finishing your day with a long walk on the beach, you are all set to shine next day. 😃

“One day offices will be a thing of the past.” — Richard Branson

Flexible work hours and ability to work from anywhere is the fundamental change that is empowering people to live more meaningful lives.

With self actualisation becoming a priority, as much as 40% of the American workforce will be working as a freelancer or independent contractor by 2020. A feeling of fulfilment will inspire them to drive better results at work.

I believe deep in my soul that if everyone lived and worked their passion and woke up excited to do their great work, the world would be a fundamentally different place.” — Scott Dinsmore, founder of Live Your Legend

Lack of a purpose driven work culture

Look around you. How many people you know feel really connected to the work they do? Does their work excite them and fill them with a fire? Or is it just a part of their life that lets them earn enough to enjoy other things that they ‘really’ like?

Not to generalise, but there has been a tendency among people to look at work as some depressing part of their life.

According to global statistics, nine out of ten people do not like what they do in their jobs. Talking specifically about America, out of ten, one person likes their job, six of them think ‘Eh! It’s not killing me’ and three out of those ten really really hate their job!

Job dissatisfaction costs America upto five hundred and fifty billion dollars a year in lost productivity! (Source)

Yes, we know all about the ‘monday blues’, about somehow getting through the week and living for the weekends.

But what if there were no ‘monday blues’ to face?

The culture in most organisations is not set for creating leaders from the very first day. People come to their day jobs, do the work assigned to them, clock their hours and leave. A sense of passiveness sets in and the will to take initiatives slowly takes a backseat.

There is a lack of alignment with the bigger purpose of the organisation.

Hence, comes the need of a strong purpose driven work culture where people feel like they really really matter in the organisation they belong to and play a meaningful role there.

“People who think there is significance and meaning in the work that they do are more than three times as likely to stay in their job.” — Celeste Headlee

The feeling of accomplishing a mission is the only thing that can make them feel motivated throughout.

You don’t control your growth

Most self motivated people want a control over the growth curve of their life and want it as steep as possible. Being in an organisation where there is no clarity about what is needed to make it to the next level leaves you wondering if your efforts even matter?

People quickly grow frustrated by the annual rating and appraisal system of organisations as it doesn’t seem to do justice to their work. With no clarity about promotion or any other sign of growth at work, the feeling of being stuck sets in. And nobody likes feeling stuck!

Performance appraisal is one of the most dreaded and hated process for managers and employees.

Research has shown that two thirds of the employees receiving the top scores in performance reviews are not actually the top performers. Only 23 percent of the HR leaders recently surveyed say that they are satisfied by the outcome of their organisation’s performance valuations. (Source)

Recently, Deloitte found out that they were wasting two million man hourseach year on faulty reviews .

This lack of transparency is hurtful for the growth of the organisation. Often the people who are motivated to work get discouraged when they don’t receive good ratings and end up losing their will to work.

Using data, metrics and self evaluation methods to gauge a person’s growth and then engaging in regular conversations to offer constructive feedback is a much better approach.

According to a study by Inc, 44 percent agree that replacing annual reviews with ongoing, real-time feedback would be the best.

Not enough breathing space to be ‘YOU’

Most organisations pay little attention to the mental health of people who work with them. As humans, we are bound to have our highs and lows. But the lack of flexibility somehow makes it mandatory to show up at office no matter what.

In a famous TED Talk by Tony Schwartz, he debunked the myth that “We are meant to run like computers; at high speeds for long periods of time”. He emphasised that renewing our personal energy is just as important as expending it.

“More, bigger and faster generates value that is narrow, shallow and short-term.” — Tony Schwartz

Confining to a certain space for a set amount of time also hurts the creative problem solving abilities of a person as creativity is not a time bound skill.

Sometimes, to solve a problem, inspiration is needed that can be found by connecting to people outside the workplace or through working from a new surrounding. While working, people must have the capacity to think and act global.

After all, it’s not the assembly line that we are working on!😅

Not suitable for women

For a working woman today, raising a family could mean years of lag in her career which could easily be avoided through remote work and flexible hour work setup.

Women lose out after a child is born and the hit to their career multiply as they have more kids.

One study conducted by University of Massachusetts sociologist Michelle Budig, found that women lose about 4 percent in lifetime earnings per child.

She says, “The motherhood penalty increases as children age. It’s not like you immediately get a lower paying job, but you miss out on the next promotion, you don’t get the next raise, your performance is evaluated lower. How pregnancy or the possibly of pregnancy is perceived in the workplace is potentially a problem for all women as it’s a bias that’s applied to all women”

Though this is how it has been for a long time, now with all the right tools and technology available, we can ensure that women can contribute to their roles effectively without having to show up at the workplace.

It’s impossible for the society to progress without allowing women to participate well.

According to McKinsey Global Institute’s November 2015 study “The Power of parity” advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.

“The time is long overdue to encourage more women to dream the possible dream” — Sheryl Sandberg

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