Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace study finds that worldwide only 13% of employees are engaged in their work, that is, they are “emotionally invested and focussed on creating value for their organizations every day”.
A vast majority are emotionally disconnected and therefore likely to be less happy and less productive.
Is it possible to “make” one happy?
Liz Wiseman author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter in her HBR blog An Easy Way to Make Your Employees Happier suggests that instead of trying to “make” people happy, we should provide them the opportunity to use skills and abilities.
Employees don’t just want their skills used; they want them stretched.
Her research with a thousand people from various industries indicated a near-linear positive correlation between level of challenge in jobs and level of satisfaction and well-being (happiness). Further investigation revealed that people who had received a challenging assignment, figured it out within three months and were ready for the next one.
What can we learn from this? Our people might be ready for the next challenge sooner than we think.
How can we make them feel challenged?
Some pointers from Wiseman:
- Increase the degree of difficulty.
- Provide higher stakes at work and a diverse set of stakeholders.
- Productively expand on the meaningful work they’re already doing.
- Turn them into rookies.
- Choose people with core aptitude or adjacent skills
- Let them learn as they go
- Invite them to tackle projects in which they don’t have full knowledge and skills
- Their comfort zones will expand, and they’ll take great pride in mastering new things.
- Pivot them to a new problem.
- Have people point their existing expertise at new problems.
- While this invigorates and challenges people, it also lets them be more creative and in control of their lives and careers.
While presenting these, it is important to be mindful of the fact that freedom together with guidance is important and the goal is to stretch them, not break them.