At the turn of the year, it’s time to focus our work and career efforts in a direction that supports our values for the way we want to live each day. I like to work on thorny problems and find solutions that free people up to find success. I also enjoy connecting with other professionals, and, like I’m doing now, writing about HR and business.
As I ponder what ingredients go into the ideal work structure, what comes to mind is my favorite campaign for national and local SHRM membership. “Better Together” is the slogan, and there’s a photo of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The idea is that both local chapter membership and national membership are fantastic, but when you put them together, they are even more amazing than the sum of their parts-there is something magical that happens when you get the national resources and opportunities for involvement, plus the local flavor of your very own HR community. It’s like the whole picture becomes visible.
Work and life are like that too. If I just think about, spend my time on, and prioritize work over everything else in life, that can lead to regret, exhaustion, and a one-dimensionality to my days that fails to create an experience in the fullest sense that honors the short stint we all have here on earth. I am fully passionate about my work, and love doing it. The issue is that without the messiness that comes along with life, its fragility and fleeting nature, I lose connection, passion and fail to grow as a person. Add to that the tendency that technology has to isolate us, and it’s easy to spend our time every day working, tapping away at our keyboards & phones in our technology bubbles, sleeping and getting up to do it all over again. I don’t know about you, but I need the freedom to zig and zag and work and live and laugh and stumble and fly away and come back, all in the course of a week.
Accordingly, I’m going to be spending more of my time focused on how work fits in 2018, in a manner that also supports the way I want to live, which is enjoying time doing fun things with my family and friends. That means minimizing commute time, fitting my work schedule to my life needs, and preserving flexibility. Consciously choosing work that allows this will guide my decisions this year. The days of working within constraints so that one can eventually “retire” to a better life are over. Our better lives need to begin today from now on, because we will likely be working until the end of our lives, if you’re a Gen Xer like me.
I just re-read this paragraph and realized that this is the kind of work I and many people have always wanted. It preserves autonomy, enhances work-life integration, and is imminently sustainable. It gives us the opportunity to feel passion and energy around work, and enables the satisfaction that productivity brings as a natural human desire. It banishes the stress and anxiety of a life not within our control.
Not all of us have the power to re-make our work lives this way. So, Managers, take heed: if you can provide these things for your employees, they will choose to stay with you. Retention ceases to be a problem. Engagement of your employees will soar and you will be the employer that everyone seeks to work with.
If we want better results and better lives in 2018, let’s all take a more human approach to work, together.