In honor of Labor Day, here are random thoughts, suggestions and observations on the importance of work. It's been said that if you deprive a man of meaningful work, he will go stark raving mad.
Each one of us has to define meaningful work for ourselves and find meaning in our work. You are really fortunate if you love what you do and your entire job is meaningful.
Others may have to dig a little deeper to find meaning in the work they do. Even if the only reason is to provide for your family - that makes it a meaningful thing.
A recent article in the declared "U.S. jobs getting harder to bear, survey reveals." The article said that more and more people are reporting dissatisfaction in the work they do. Since we spend a majority of our waking hours at work, that adds up to a lot of time feeling dissatisfied.
Barbara Glanz, an author, speaker and expert on employee motivation and performance, has a book that you may want to check out, "Handle with CARE: Motivating and Retaining Employees." It's full of creative, low-cost ways to raise morale, increase commitment and reduce turnover. The CARE approach stands for
C = creative communication
A = atmosphere and appreciation for all
R = respect and reason for being
E = empathy and enthusiasm.
Glanz has found that motivation and retention are not about money as much as it is about how employees are treated as people.
Her research consistently shows that good wages are less important than interesting work, feeling appreciated, being "in on things" and job security. This is a must-read for any boss or manager.
If you think about it from a certain angle, workaholics really put so much more pressure on themselves than any one realizes. There is so much more pressure to succeed. If you are going to be a workaholic, you had better be very successful, because what could be more embarrassing than an unsuccessful workaholic?
If you are the spouse or close to a person who has lost a job, the best thing you can do is be present. You may not know what to say, and you don't have to know what to say. Just being there and being supportive is the very best thing you can do.
All people can find themselves out of a job. That's why it's important for everyone to do a couple of things to protect themselves, just in case: Build your network of contacts before you need them. As author and speaker Harvey McKay says,
"You have to build your well before you are thirsty."
While what you know is important, who you know and who knows you is equally important.
Also, it's important to always have a what-if plan. Steve Christian of Magic 107.1 recently shared with me this analogy: "A good pilot is always looking for a safe place to land. A good pilot will continuously look out ahead during a flight, looking for a safe place to land, just in case." We should always be doing the same. Ask yourself, "If the bottom falls out of what I am doing tomorrow, what would I do next?"
When you do find yourself out of a job, the worst thing you can do is keep it to yourself. Let everyone know. Remember, what's important is who you know, who knows you and who knows you are looking. Some folks sort of play at getting the next job. To be successful, you have to make a job out of getting another job. Spend as much time looking for a job as you would working at a job.
If you are not able to make a living doing what it is that you love, you still have a winning option. Make sure you still do what you love in some form. It can be a part-time job or simply a hobby. Do it because it fulfills you. You may end up as one of the many people who have made a career out of a hobby they love.
Another thought from Barbara Glanz. She strongly recommends that whatever you do, you make it your own. She calls it giving your job your own personal signature. Ask yourself, "What can I do to make this my own, different from how anyone else would do it?"
Finally: "Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle." — Phillips Brooks.