Many people report that after a year and a half of isolation due to a world pandemic, working at home in the safety, warmth, quiet and comfort of their home, returning to the office or to the tradeshows or customers in person has been very challenging. What happened to the comfy stretchy pants and slippers? No make-up except for Zoom calls? Where’s the cat that was always on my lap or the dog waiting for a walk or a ball toss to distract from the computer tedium?
Are people returning to work but leaving a significant part of them behind? Was work really that bad? According to statistics, apparently it was. 50% of people admitted to disliking their job, upwards of 85% hated it. (Gallup poll) And I don’t suspect it was the actual job as much as the uncertain, often competitive or emotionally volatile workplace with other people who hate their jobs. One survey found that more people quit their jobs in 2019 than ever before (3% of the total workforce in America).
So our little buddy, Covid 19 brought with him more than a virus. He brought change and the opportunity to look at how we are contriving our lives. Have we been nourishing ourselves? Have we been thriving as humans? Or just filling in the blanks, paying the bills to support a life we don’t really like?
The biggest change seems to be coming from the young generation. Young people would prefer to manage a YouTube channel or blog, write an app or publish an e-novel than work for minimum wage for a fast food chain. And who can blame them? During the past few months, one thing is common throughout the US and that is ‘hiring’ signs on the doors of just about every business in town needing entry level employees.
What is happening, whether we are aware of it or not, is that we are reassessing whether the American Dream had efficacy. Whether the end result of capitalism was worth it. As we shift into a new way of knowing ourselves (homo virtualis), we get the opportunity to take with us, or create values based on what makes us feel good first vs what makes us money as the primary motivation. Look at the number of views of the animal rescue videos online and you will see what makes people feel good.
How do we as managers and leaders encourage and embrace this much-needed change and inspire our employees? Offer working environments that encourage creativity? Listen more intently to what people want, what makes them feel like a valuable human, how individuals can find greater fulfillment and allow a company to flourish also? Is it possible we can trade off mega profit for human thriving? Can we imagine redirecting profits back to those who help create it instead of a few share holders? Change is happening. Choose to be a part of it consciously, conscious being the operative word. Bring ethics, value, awareness, interest and concern to your workplace.
As Socrates said, The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.