What People Need to Feel Good at Work ?
I heard Dan Ariety recently give a TED talk that touched on something important how to feel good at work. I think that profit or a paycheck isn’t enough for people to in today’s age of information saturation. The internet lets people access and know things they have never seen before, so people’s aspirations, hobbies and inspirations have changed with the times.
I think that what big companies think about their employees have changed as well. Whereas before these companies often threw large sums of money to people for jobs that weren’t vital, but they’ve learned that they have to offer way more like: empowerment, intraprenueship, happiness, creative workspaces, leadership…
Essentially, the things that people look for to feel good at work are:
1. Meaning. I think that a life without meaning is slowly going to eat at you. When your career doesn’t have any relevance, you tend to lose hope and not motivated. Dan Ariety used the example of a simple sociological experiment to illustrate this face. People were asked to construct a lego structure for a fee, and each time they constructed one, the lab people would dismantle the figure in front of them and ask them to fix it again. With each new structure, the fee for construction diminished. Eventually, due to the futility and diminishing returns, people stopped. I think that it’s important for people to feel good at work by producing something with meaning.
2. Creation. If I had to say what would make me feel good at work, it would definitely be the feeling of designing and creating something new. Whether it’s a project or a new product, people feel good when they’re given the freedom to create something of their own hands.
3. Challenges. Although most people shy away from conflict, issues and hurdles, the people who can produce the best results love challenges. I think that challenges refine the creative process and strengthen a brand or product. People can feel good at work when they’ve overcome a significant challenge or hurdle.
4. Ownership and identity. Teamwork isn’t overrated and I think that the smartest managers always know how to motivate both on the team level and individual level. Dan Ariety shows us another good experiment where several groups were given the same repetitive, mundane task to perform. The group that received acknowledgment and were identified as directly responsible for the good results of their work were performing the longest.
5. Pride. After everything, even when the project did not pan out or was cancelled, it’s important for the people who devoted themselves to the project to feel that their work had meaning. Pride in the results of their efforts makes people feel good at work. Good CEOs know that the forged team and the creative efforts of failed projects should not go to waste. Dan tells us that they can still feel pride with their work if companies or CEOs use the results for some other project.
In the end, a paycheck isn’t the only way people feel good at work. They need to feel that their work has meaning, that it’s the considered a product of their efforts, both on the team and individual level. The work itself is a separate entity from the money or the rewards they get from it.
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