5 Reasons why work is not working

How things have always been done around here

As a child, I saw my father work long hours every day, Monday to Friday, often bringing work home for the weekend and evenings. He worked for the same company for 40 years.

I understood early, that work was a place he had to go, whether he wanted to or not. This subconsciously prepared me for the (soulless) fulfilment of my duty. I would also encounter this call of duty once I finished my education.

Today, too many of us head into a job we're not crazy about, to do work that doesn't set our hearts on fire, for people we probably wouldn't be friends with, if we met them on the street. And our parents and elders celebrate our ability to stick with mediocrity for the long term, empathizing with our unhappiness, but reminding us, that this is what life is like.

That’s just the way it is. Or is it?

We stay, and we get promoted to slightly higher-paying positions that still don't allow us to reach our full potential. We are already invested 10+ years in the industry. So, breaking out seems reckless, impossible, and unrealistic. I know, I stayed for that reason.

I did hear the stories of others who took matters in their own hands. They made the choice to break the cycle, to get paid for doing what they love. They stepped off the conveyor belt to see how their strengths can impact the world.

I felt such course of action was not for me. I did not know where to start, what to expect and no one around me did “such a thing”. So, I stayed, too.

The turning point was a meeting with my boss. The conversation demonstrated to me that I fundamentally disagreed with the priorities and values that the company displayed. I did not know specifically what else I would do. I just knew I had to leave. As it turned out, the “Hand-shake” became the seed funding for the company that followed. That was now 10 years ago and I would not trade my journey for my old life.


Why work is no longer working

Work in the traditional sense, as our parents and grandparents knew it, is no longer working.

More than 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace. More than 80% of applicants lie on their job interviews. This makes it difficult for even the most well-meaning organizations to put the employee’s skills to good use.

On top of this, most organizations fail to build trust, vulnerability and creativity into their work culture. This makes it difficult to make the best use of our strengths and passions.

The workplace has become a place where we are focused on goal and the processes. We forget values and visions. We ignore the people, the relationships and the potential around us.

If you're still reading, I assume, it's because you see it too.

You see that work isn't working, and you are interested in understanding why. Because maybe, if you understand why work in the traditional sense is not working for your generation, you can be part of the solution.

Here are 5 ways how you can tell, that work isn’t working for you, either: 

  1. You don’t like going to work! Isn’t that the real reason that you look forward to the end of the day, the weekend, the next vacation or the retirement? We don’t like going to work but feel we do not have a better option. Most of us are not engaged in the work we do. That is unhelpful. In addition, this is contagious. It impacts colleagues and organisations, as well as our private life. Just imagine what your life would be like, if you and the people close to you would be fully engaged in what you do. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
  2. You cannot speak the truth at work. More than 80% of applicants have lied in their job interview. This could be anything from generous rounding to false claim to impress and get a job that doesn’t even align with what they are truly about. I was shocked, when I read the study. When I spoke to friends about this, I was told that “Sure! The companies are lying too!”. Whichever way I looked at this, I can’t see this ending well. So, what would an organisation look like, where you were encouraged to tell the full truth of who you are? What would it be like to work there? And would this be a better place to work? I think so!
  3. You are not having the REAL conversations. Imagine for a moment, your boss gave you a job that does not inspire you. So, you go back to your boss and ask for a different project. Picture in your mind, how this conversation would go. During my time in large organisations, this would have been painfully short conversations. Yet, if we can’t have a conversation about inspiration and engagement, how can we build organisations that are inspiring and engaging?
  4. We learned to cheat the system. Recently, I called my phone provider with a problem. The computer voice told me that (in their opinion), my waiting time would be too long. So, they terminated the call without my consent and asked me to call back later. I am sure that someone in the organisation is very happy that waiting times are so short. I frequently see this approach to manipulate the current system everywhere. And it is likely that someone gets rewarded for this behaviour, therefore cheating the own system.
  5. We do not know how our work contributes to the future we want to live in. Recently, I attended an investor conference. There was a lot of talk which technology or industry would be best to invest in. Do we really need another food delivery app? And there was very little talk about the future we wanted to create with these technologies and investments. Today, we focus on our short-term goals, our quarterly results. We spend little time discussing where our work is taking us.


Do these 5 symptoms sound familiar to you? Which do you see?


How is this relevant to you?

It is important to understand that these symptoms are caused by your (work) environment. And there is absolutely no reason for you to put up with it.

Yes, there are other ways to work and to lead people that address these symptoms. There is evidence and data to support the notion that it is a much better way to get things done.

Because as soon as you know what environment YOU need to thrive, you can start changing your work environment to suit your needs. Now, how does that sound?


Too good to be true?

This is where I can help you. This is no “get rich fast” formula, but a plan designed to help you know your own strengths and live your secret ambitions. I will explain to you why it makes sense to follow up on these thoughts and join me on the journey.

After 300 questionnaires, 60 interviews, hours of conversations and an article for a science journal, I want to embark on a journey to create something that addresses these issues. And this blog is meant to:

  1. a) document the work, along with its victories and setback and
  2. b) bring together people with the same desire.

This is not intended to be a place of talking and writing and teaching. Instead, I want to discuss, create and do. We already know a lot about what is good for us humans. And I want to create a workplace that develops the necessary environment for people bring their full potential to work.

How I intend to do that and how you can benefit and get involved will be content of my newsletter. If you want to find out more, sign up to this newsletter below.


Do you want to know more how your work environment influences your performance and well-being?

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