17 August 2016

That time I was famous on LinkedIn

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I have had my share of bad jobs. The kind that made me groan to wake up in the morning at the thought of going to work. Jobs that felt like they were going nowhere and had no obvious redeemable features.

Thankfully that’s not the situation I’m in now. I love my job and the company I work for (and I’m not just saying that because I’m writing on said company’s blog). I look back on those awful jobs almost fondly – they definitely taught me a lot and ultimately helped me get where I am.

Given my experience with bad jobs, my ears perked up when I heard someone complaining about their job on the train the other day. I was pretty taken by what they had to say and decided to post the following on LinkedIn:

“A person behind me on the train complained about their boss, colleagues and workplace nonstop from Chatswood to Hornsby. It wasn't irritating, it was interesting and got me thinking.

1. Your boss and company culture, good or bad, make all the difference.
2. Why do people stay in jobs or workplaces they clearly can't stand? I know there are reasons but I'm certain the stress and dissatisfaction can't be worth it.”

It was the first time I had ever posted anything on LinkedIn and I expected it might get one or two likes from friends or colleagues. Turns out it received a lot more interest than that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking viral levels on engagement, just a relatively modest 48 likes and 19 comments (plus some replies). But it definitely drove home the fact that a lot of people are, or have been, unhappy with their jobs. Here’s what some people had to say:

“People stay stuck in what they know. Misery is comfortable – change and improving your situation is not. I wouldn’t underestimate the power of denial either – you can whinge endlessly about your job and still not be able to admit that you’re not happy, as that necessitates doing something about it.”

“I don’t want to deny that there are far too many bad workplaces and poor managers, but this person is deeply stuck in their own victim-hood.”

“It’s an employer’s marketing. What choice does a worker have? Bills to pay. No time to even consider chasing another job where you may not be better off anyway.”

Some people offered advice for those stuck in jobs they can’t stand:

“Ultimately we are our own agents for changes. In any situation you can choose to accept it, change it or remove yourself from it.”

“Always interesting to consider who is listening and it is a waster opportunity not to consider the others in the train as the link to their next job.”

“If a person is unhappy in their position they should change jobs. If they decide to do nothing, then they should stop complaining and accept it, because an employer will not change for you.”

While this is all very interesting and made me feel like an internet celebrity for a couple of day, there are some important points to be made about job satisfaction. According to a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD), “almost one in four workers were looking to leave their jobs because of the failure of managers to engage and retain staff.” Job satisfaction is linked directly to productivity, staff retention, loyalty and general health and wellbeing.

With so many employees apparently unhappy, workplaces clearly need to do something to get them back on track. It’s tempting to think throwing money at the problem will help, but unfortunately it’s not that easy – according CIPD, remuneration is not necessarily linked with job satisfaction.

So what can be done to make work a less painful experience for employees? Here are a few proven methods, according to the good people at 15Five, Small Business and Chart Your Course:

Create a positive work environment

This will look different for every workplace, but find out what your gets your employees out of bed in the morning and offer that. Don’t make assumptions – not everyone wants a foosball table or vending machines.

Engage staff to evaluate satisfaction levels

On the subject of not making assumptions, don’t just assume staff are happy because they’re not saying anything. Ask them and find out what’s really going on. Be strategic and purposeful about this.

Recognise and reward your employees

I’ve heard so many stories of people having their contributions overlooked or their achievements attributed to someone else. Make sure credit is given where credit’s due.

Treat all team members with respect

This might sound like common sense but unfortunately it’s all too common for workplaces to have a culture of criticising team members and gossiping. Treat every member of your team with respect to make them feel valued and appreciated.

Provide training and advancement opportunities

PROVIDE, don’t just PROMISE. I can’t tell you how many “6 months from now…” conversations I’ve had. Inevitably, 6 months turns into 12, which turns into 18 and I quickly realise I’m going nowhere. I know I’m not alone in this and it’s a big part of why people just give up on companies.

Don’t be a workplace full of grumblers and complainers. Be somewhere people can’t wait to go each day.

Christian Berechree joined Akolade’s production team in May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Media and Music and a Masters in Journalism.

Christian is a musical theatre geek and a new dad, and he’ll happily spend hours telling you about either or both of those things.

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