While science can't seem to prove a causal link between happy workers and productivity, it's nice to know that there are benefits beyond that to justify to leaders everywhere that we have to design work to be more satisfying for our workforce.
I read a research report from Accenture that said more than half of business professionals report they are dissatisfied with their jobs. (See http://newsroom.accenture.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=5163). In a better economy, I reckon many of them would walk. Companies are already scrambling to attract the professional talent they need. If we can't reverse this satisfaction trend, this problem will compound and result in more off shoring of professional and service jobs.
So what satisfies people on the job? A lot of folks say "money" right off the bat, but that's not true. The people in the survey did report that one thing that made them dissatisfied was they thought they were underpaid. Pay is a dissatisfier, not a satisfier. (Herzberg called these kinds of things hygiene factors.). If the only reason you go to work is for the paycheck, that's a pretty sad work experience, and one we need to change.
Three key things make work and life satisfying: meaningfulness, awareness, and responsibility. I'll write up more on each of these in the coming days with a simple, practical approach for improving them for your workforce.
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