How to Bring the Joy Back to Your Job
If you’ve lost your passion and drive for your work – you aren’t alone. The most recent research published by Gallup Inc. shows that only 31.5 percent of the U.S. workforce feels fully engaged at work. The data for Millennial workers is even less encouraging: only 28.8 percent feel a sense of engagement in their job. According to The Center for Creative Leadership, employees spend on average 72 hours per week working or connected to work. You spend so much time in or involved in work you deserve nothing less than an enriching work experience.
Here are seven strategies to help you rekindle your joy for your job.
1. Leverage Your Inherent Strengths
Craft your career by leveraging your strengths. Strengths as ways of being rather than doing that you find continually energizing, easy and put you in that state of flow, such as social creativity, love of learning and critical thinking.
You may be an analytics power-user or the go-to person for showcasing your teams’ accomplishments in front of the board but if those activities leave you feeling uninspired or perhaps even drained that could be a sign that that your work tasks aren’t aligned with your inherent strengths.
Identifying and leveraging your strengths is critical to you doing your best work. According to the Gallup Inc. blog people who use their strengths, every day are six times more likely to be engaged at work. Employees who use four or more of your top character strengths daily are more likely going to see your work as a calling with deep meaning and purpose. There are a number of tools and assessments you can use to identify your top strengths. The VIA Institute on Character at http://www.viasurvey.org is a free, scientifically-validated survey that will identify your top signature strengths. Other strengths-based assessments include Strengths-Finder 2.0,
Think creatively about how you can use your strengths within your current role at work. You needn’t find a new job – often just some subtle refinements or little strengths-based tweaks are all you need to reap significant benefits. Consider opportunities that exist within your current role where you could use your strengths and where your organization would also benefit. If love of learning comes up as one of your strengths, perhaps there a task force you could lead or a new project team that you could join that as an added benefit would help you develop a positive workplace profile. If you rank high on perspective offer to add that point of view at meetings or strategic planning sessions to help your workgroup appreciate the bigger picture when the rest of the team is in the weeds.
2. Develop a Gratitude Practice
The research supports conventional wisdom: being grateful for what you already have is the first step to getting more of what you want. What is good or even great about your work right now? Do you work in an environment that offers flex time, has a gym on-site, or does your employer offer tuition reimbursement for that degree you want? Focusing on what is already working will help you appreciate other positive aspects of your environment that you may not have noticed. Taking a few minutes at the end of your day to reflect on some of the high points at work can have a profound influence on your levels of joy.
3. Identify and Nurture Workplace Friendships.
In their Q12 Survey, Gallup Inc. asked the question “Do I have a best friend at work?” This survey revealed that workplace friendships were considered as important as salary or benefits. Having a best friend at work was positively correlated with productive, profitability, safety and customer loyalty. When Gallup Inc. administered this survey to a random group http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/787/collective-advantage.aspx. Friends at work ensure we are supported, while being positively challenged, leading to better performance and job satisfaction.
4. Ask for Help.
You don’t have to have all the answers. What’s important to keep in mind is that you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you feel comfortable share your feelings with a trusted colleague, mentor or your boss.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing that you lost your workplace mojo, start first with a circle of friends, a mastermind or a professional coach to share your thoughts and help you develop an action plan to see through your funk.
5. Develop a Growth Mindset.
Fostering a sense of learning is one of the quickest ways to create engagement. In her seminal book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dweck shows readers that learning stems from adopting a growth mindset. Based on Dweck’s research, humans grow and develop task or skill-set mastery through deliberate and sustained effort over time, which is self-reinforcing.
Moreover, we know from Dan Pink’s work in Drive that mastery is one of the three key pillars of intrinsic motivation. As humans, the drive for mastery is a strong force that is self-reinforcing. Embracing the growth mindset means that you need to be willing to try and fail and to use that experience to deepen your learning. By offering to take on new responsibilities at work outside of your a little outside comfort zone, you will expand your skills set while giving you an added sense of achievement. Some of my clients have found that taking a team lead role, leading a committee or speaking at departmental or divisional meetings not only gives them much-needed visibility within their organizations but also gives them significant opportunities to learn, while opening new doors. Today may be the right time to talk to your boss about a new work assignment, job shadowing or a formal stretch role.
6. Build Rest Breaks into Your Workday
Breaks are critical for our emotional and mental wellbeing. John Media, psychologist, researchers and author of Brain Rules http://www.brainrules.net/ describes that human bodies and brains were designed to function optimally under constant movement (our ancestors likely walked up to 10 miles a day in search of food and shelter). Tony Schwartz has an entire organization http://theenergyproject.com dedicated to studying the science of optimal performance. He describes that “human beings aren’t computers and we were not designed to run at high speeds continuously, for long periods of time. Science tells us we’re at our best when we move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy.” Build regular breaks into your workday, working no more than 45-minutes at a time before taking a quick 30-second stretch break. Try talking 15-minute walk outdoors at lunchtime, connecting with a colleague over coffee, taking part in your departmental potluck, or even just sitting quietly at your desk for a few minutes between e-mails and meetings.
If pressed for time, let’s face it, we all are – try combining a bit of activity while connecting with colleagues in the form of walking meetings. Walking meetings can help you quickly slip some activity in your day while keeping up with your work and workplace relationships (https://www.ted.com/talks/nilofer_merchant_got_a_meeting_take_a_walk?language=en and http://netwalkingllc.com).
7. Take your Vacation/Holiday Time
One survey recently reported that U.S. employees take only half of their paid vacation time off, even more staggering 15 percent of employees surveyed took no time off at all during the year. Concern about getting behind in their work or wanting to outperform colleagues were the reasons why employees aren’t taking all their paid time off.
Not taken paid time time off may only be part of the picture. According to a 2013 report, 23% of Americans have no paid vacation . Other countries, including many in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada fair somewhat better when it comes to paid time off – but we still need to be mindful that people still feel overworked. Carving out time for renewal is good for business and your health.
Perhaps more troubling are those working environments where there is an implicit message that work comes before all else. Taking time off from work can be the best thing for a healthy career with benefits including improved problem-solving and lower rates of stress. A very good friend of mine who is a Director in a large organization takes regular vacations despite of a heavy workload and dedicated to supporting her direct reports. What she models to her staff is vitally important. If managers take time off from work, they are implicitly telling their direct reports they have permission to do the same. We need more managers who are willing to be this kind of a workplace role model.
The work you do matters. Take to heart even just one of the suggestions in this post and you will make even more of a difference at work.
I’d love to hear what strategies and tips you have used to bring the joy back into your job.