Earlier this week, the 13th Annual Illinois HR Conference and Expo (ILSHRM) took place near Chicago. As usual, there were some great keynotes, as well as concurrent sessions. And out of two nearly full days of information on everything from candidate experience to labor law, one thing really stood out as a topic for further discussion. So, instead of focusing on the employer side of things (per my usual), we’re going to look at things from an employee perspective for once.
Employee Disengagement Stems from a Misguided Approach
On Tuesday morning, Cy Wakeman talked reality-based leadership and turning talent into productivity. A great kickoff to the day overall, but the statement that really got me was this: “Our morale is caused by our thinking.” She went on to note that stress in the workplace and in life is often not triggered by reality or current circumstance but by our perception and approach to the issue at hand.
The reason this was notable to me is twofold. First, with employee engagement so low in many companies, you have to wonder if a simple change in perspective on their part could make a significant difference in their attitude toward the job and the workplace. Second, this touches on something I’ve been thinking about a lot based on personal experience and what I’ve heard from others who are never satisfied with work because hey, the grass is always greener, right?
A Change in Outlook Could Change Your Work Life
As cliché as it may sound, your job is what you make it. You can’t just float around, lacking any ambition or drive, while expecting your company to praise and reward you. Unfortunately, many people fall into this mindset but can’t understand why they’re unhappy and unfulfilled at work.
When it comes to Productivity: Pinpoint the Problem, Choose Your Destination
The roadmap to change is really quite simple. Start by isolating the issue and really being honest with yourself about the source of your stress and frustration. By really dissecting the situation, you can determine the next step. From here, you can either A) recognize that your outlook and way of thinking need some adjustment or B) make the conscious decision to make a move because you no longer see a fit with your current situation.
A. It’s not you, it’s me. Once you’ve identified the source of your frustration, you must change your approach. Seeing things in a new light can make a huge impact on how you go through life and your day-to-day actions in the workplace. It can alter everything from your interactions with your boss, coworkers and clients to the results your produce. The sooner you recognize that it’s you – not everyone or everything around you – bringing you down, the sooner you’ll be back on track.
B. Hit the road. Ultimately, you have control of your situation. Of course there may be financial challenges or other obligations that are holding you back, but at this point, it’s time to really consider your options. Being miserable at work doesn’t benefit you, your coworkers or your company, so don’t feel the need to stick around. If it’s not a fit, you have to proactively make the decision to change the circumstances, which may mean jumping ship.
Obviously this process is simplified and meant to provide a foundation and outline for what you need to do if the aforementioned scenario resonates with you. Just remember, you get what you put in, and only you can make the decision to change.
Autumn McReynolds is the Content Strategist and Lead Blogger for TalentMinded, an online publication focused on talent attraction and engagement in the digital age. After landing in the recruitment space in 2009, she has spent the past three years in the job board industry as both a recruiter and project manager, consulting with clients about job advertisements, employment brand and SEO strategies for attracting new candidates via job postings. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.