Fighting the Workplace Blues

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An intriguing New York Times opinion piece has been topping the website’s most emailed section for the last few weeks. Titled, “Why You Hate Work” (I must admit the headline grabbed me and no, I do not hate my job), the brutal analysis and indictment of today’s workplace was an eye opener for me, and apparently, for a lot of other readers as well.

Written by two executives from the consulting firm the Energy Project, the article’s main message is “the way we’re working isn’t working.” The rise of digital technology has led to employees being tethered to the job, resulting in post-recession worker bees who are burned out, unfocused and unproductive.

And the lethargy isn’t relegated to middle managers but is spreading to top level execs as well. One of the Energy Project’s CEO clients complained, “I just felt that no matter what I was doing, I was always getting pulled somewhere else. It seemed like I was always cheating someone — my company, my family, myself. I couldn’t truly focus on anything.”

Using workplace surveys, the Energy Project came up with four core needs of today’s employees: renewal (as simple as taking breaks); value (working for caring supervisors); focus (actually doing one task at a time); and purpose (finding meaning in the work).

Interestingly, these core needs were some of the themes that shone through the profiles in this month’s Cover Story on Optometric Business Innovators. Time and again, we read about ODs looking out for their employees, whether it was training staff to be experts in their areas of expertise or creating an environment of carmaraderie. Running a business in a changing environment is no easy feat but fostering a team atmosphere has served these innovators well.

What improvements have you made to keep your employees engaged? Talk to us on Facebook or keep the conversation going on Twitter. ■

mkane@jobson.com