Last year when we wrote about the biggest Employee Motivations of 2022, many elements, such as flexibility and autonomy, stood out as vital to employees; which is still holding true for 2023.
The Great Resignation of last year spoke to the growing movement of employees seeking purpose and personal value in their positions.
Some companies have really heeded the call and expanded mental health coverage or instituted retention programs that focus on personal and professional development. And some are still operating under the status quo.
If you are an employee, keep reading to see which of these motivations resonate with you the most. Our hope is that you can use this information to evaluate your current role. Maybe you will notice which of the aspects mentioned you feel satisfied with. Alternatively, maybe you will discover elements you can work with your employer to see more of as we move into the new year.
If you are an employer, we hope that these employee motivations will help you reflect on your current team and take into consideration what their motivations are. And ultimately, we hope that by keeping these in the forefront you end 2023 with a team that is even more motivated and engaged.
Why it’s important
Encouraging professional development allows employees to envision what their future might look like at the company. It also tells them that their role is not stagnant and that they will continue to grow. What’s more, having you as an employer support their professional development lets employees know that you value them and care about their careers.
Another benefit is that learning new skills will help employees increase their self-efficacy and sense of autonomy, which contributes to increased motivation.
All of these outcomes benefit the company; its culture, retention, and bottom line – it is an investment that needs to be taken seriously.
How to provide opportunities for professional development
Encouraging professional development can be done in a variety of ways. One of the simplest ways is to discuss personal and professional goals with employees. Asking them about their aspirations will show them that you care.
It also provides a chance for you to get to know your employees better. Another action you can take is to offer opportunities for upskilling and reskilling. Upskilling and reskilling helps employees feel more competent in their roles and more confident in moving into new ones.
It can be accomplished through a variety of means, including classroom training sessions, access to online courses, seminars/webinars, and mentorship programs.
Flexibility and Autonomy
Why it’s important
Giving employees more autonomy is critical for feeding intrinsic motivation. If employees are micromanaged, they will get the work done, but it will be out of fear of being reprimanded, not out of their own interest or drive. And if they keep completing work this way, it will inevitably lead to burnout.
Giving employees breathing room to do work on their own terms will decrease burnout. It will also foster a relationship of trust, which is essential when it comes to motivating employees.
It is also important to acknowledge that employees have lives outside of work and that this doesn’t mean that their work will be any less effective. Along with autonomy, offering employees flexibility to make their jobs more manageable.
Flexibility doesn’t mean scrapping deadlines altogether. It just means giving employees the freedom to do work on their own time.
How to allow more flexibility and autonomy
So, now that we’ve established their importance, what are some ways to offer flexibility and autonomy to employees?
One way is to provide flexible schedules. This may mean allowing employees to take extended lunches. It could also look like being generous with sick days or half days.
Additionally, you might consider giving employees the chance to choose their own hours or at least work collaboratively to decide on them. Some workers might prefer to start earlier or later in the day so that they can manage their personal demands.
Furthermore, in a study of 30,000 U.S. workers, 88% reported that the flexibility to work from home or the office had increased their job satisfaction.
Even if you prefer an in-person workplace, offering remote work, even just one or two days a week could go a long way toward improving employee satisfaction.
Recognition and Appreciation
Why it’s important
Everyone welcomes being recognized and appreciated. It doesn't have to be a grand public gesture, but it is always a good idea to show people that you see them, on a human level. Showing recognition and appreciation facilitates a positive relationship between the employee and the manager, which is huge. Going to work every day feels much less like a chore when you get along well with your boss.
Being shown appreciation makes work feel more human.
In addition, it helps employees see that their work matters and is making a positive difference in someone’s life. Feeling valued is essential when it comes to motivation. Nobody wants to do work where they feel their skills are not seen or appreciated
How to show appreciation
When it comes to expressing appreciation, consistency is key. Don’t wait until the performance review to pay someone a compliment. When an employee does good work that makes your job easier, make sure to let them know!
Small gestures, such as thank-you emails, written notes, or verbal words of thanks, can all help someone feel appreciated.
Furthermore, if your budget allows, bonuses and increases in compensation certainly go a long way in telling employees that you recognize their hard work.
Another way to help employees feel recognized is to celebrate milestones. Giving them a shoutout on their anniversary of working at the company or on their birthday shows them that you value them.
Positive Company Culture
Why it’s important
As a culture, we are becoming more aware of the role that mental health has on our overall lives. And hopefully, one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic we’ve all been dealing with these last few years will be that work will become more human.
If employees don’t feel that their basic needs are accounted for, they can’t be expected to perform well. Because let’s face it, we’re not robots made for work, we’re human beings with aspirations, ideas, and feelings.
Having a positive company culture makes employees feel cared for and comfortable at work. It also helps them stay mentally and physically healthy, which allows them to have the capacity to perform at their best and be most engaged.
How to make space for a positive company culture
A positive company culture is one that places emphasis on wellness, emotional and physical.
This might mean offering fitness programs to help employees stay physically and mentally healthy. Another thing a company with a positive culture might do is offer food and snacks throughout the day, to keep employees feeling well-fueled and energized.
Also, a company with a positive company culture encourages employees to have a good work-life balance. For example, especially with remote or hybrid work, it can be beneficial to gently remind employees to switch off at the end of their working day to help them avoid burnout.
Furthermore, something that is essential to a positive company culture is fostering emotional safety. If employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up about issues they’re having at work or in their personal life, they’re probably not feeling their best at work.
One way to foster emotional safety is to have an open-door policy. Make sure that employees know that they can come to you with their concerns at any time. This will strengthen your relationship with them and will help them to feel supported.
The bottom line
No two employees are the same, but in general, being treated with humanity and respect goes a long way. There are many actions you can take, both big and small, to make your employees feel like they belong at your company and to increase motivation.
And if you want to learn even more about what makes your employees tick, ask them! Asking for input demonstrates that you care.
If you are an employee, we hope that these elements resonated with you and that you are seeing them in your current role. You deserve to be appreciated and treated well.
We hope you found this useful, for more personalized advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Contact@quardev.com!
There’s a good chance at some point, you’ve been asked the following - “what do you want to be when you grow up?” This question may have been fun to think about as a child, but now that you’re an adult and the pressure is on, it can be stressful and confusing.
Whether you’re just entering (or re-entering) the workforce or you have been employed but are looking to take your career in a different direction, the first step to securing a job that you can thrive in is to determine your goals.
Even if you’re only planning for a minor career shift, or simply want to work at a different company, reevaluating your priorities and motivations can help you to go into your next job search with some clarity.
If defining your career goals seems intimidating, you are not alone. The stakes seem so incredibly high. How can you possibly take your interests, experiences, and dreams, and decide on one thing you are meant to do?
We’re here to help get you started on that reflection and make it a bit less intimidating. Keep reading for some very simple and fun exercises to help you realize your career goals.
Don’t worry about the “perfect fit”
The idea that your perfect career awaits you and you just need to find it, has been fed to many of us. The pressure to find the ”perfect fit” can lead to having expectations that are unhealthy and unrealistic.
Take some of the pressure off. Don’t worry about finding the perfect fit, and just focus on coming up with some options that are a good fit.
Also, remember that choosing what you want to do does not mean that you’ll be locked into that career path forever. It’s actually quite common for people to make career shifts. In fact, a recent poll found that over half of middle-income workers are considering changing jobs right now.
Drop the “shoulds” from your life
In life, there are so many things that you are told you should do, in order to live your best life. Some of these are well-supported by evidence, like getting enough sleep most nights. But others, like the idea that you must receive a certain level of education to have a fulfilling career or that your path will be clear and straightforward, are not true.
All of these “shoulds” can cloud your judgment, and make it hard to get in touch with your true values and goals.
Before you go through the following self-reflection exercise, take all of your “shoulds” out of the equation. This might be tricky at first because so many of these thoughts are automatic but stick to it. The “shoulds” are probably not serving you as well as you think they may be.
Career assessments and personality tests
While career assessments and personality tests are not the end-all-be-all for defining your career goals, they are a helpful starting point. Many personality and career tests are not based on scientific method and haven’t performed well on tests of reliability and validity. But this does not mean that they can’t still be useful tools for you to use.
They can help you learn about yourself, your interests, your strengths, and your weaknesses.
Regardless of how accurate you find your results, taking the tests and interpreting them will encourage further introspection. If you find some careers that look promising, it might be a good idea to research those positions. For example, results may reveal strengths that really resonate with you. It might then be helpful to investigate careers that will require you to harness and apply those skills.
Here we’ve listed just a few free and popular career and personality tests (but there are many more available online) :
The MAPP career test is comprised of about 70 questions in which you are asked to sort your likes and dislikes. It’s supposed to take about 22 minutes. It aims to help you discover careers that would suit your interests and fit with your motivations.
The MAPP test has held up to reliability and validity studies and has been used by many institutions and career counselors.
The Work Importance Profiler is aimed to assess what’s important to you, and then show you careers that are compatible with your values.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most widely used personality tests available. It takes about 20 minutes, and then upon completion, you are given a personality profile.
There are 16 possible personality types, that are presented in the format of four letters. The personality types are determined by whether you’re:
- Introverted or Extroverted (I vs E)
- Intuitive or Sensory (N vs S)
- Thinking or Feeling (T vs F)
- Judging or Perceiving (J vs P).
The test will give you a brief description of your personality type, along with a list of strengths and weaknesses. It will also provide you with careers that others of your suggested type are excelling at.
The Big Five personality test will give you a score on five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
This test should help you understand some of your tendencies and skills. Providing you with important factors to keep in mind whilst in your career search.
Questions to ask yourself
These questions are all aimed to help you learn more about your specific skills and interests, and how you can match those with careers.
The more detailed and true you are with your answers, the more helpful these tools will be.
What criteria do you have for your life?
To define your career goals, a good place to start is to consider what criteria you have for your life, both in and outside of work. This can include positive and negative criteria: positive things that you would like more of in life, and negative things that you would prefer to avoid.
For example, a positive criterion could be that you want to work in an industry that allows for promotions and career advancement. Or maybe you want a lifestyle where you can spend frequent time with family.
Whilst, a negative criterion could be you don’t want to work in a highly stressful environment, or that you don’t want a role that requires you to work during your personal time.
What are your interests?
This seems like an easy question, one you’ve likely answered many times but this time you will need to dig deep. When you were younger, what did you enjoy learning about? What do you go out of your way to learn more about now? It’s helpful to understand what your interests are to gain insights into what you’d like to have in your life.
What are you passionate about?
The best and most fulfilling work often comes when you follow your passions. What is truly important to you? What are your values? Is there a topic that you could talk about for ages, or listen to others talk about without becoming bored?
What do you excel at?
Everyone has certain skills that just seem to come more naturally to them. This could be a specific technical skill such as coding, or it could be a soft skill, like empathy.
If you’re struggling to come up with answers to this one at first, it can be helpful to reach out to a close friend or someone who knows you well for insight. Taking the career and personality assessments will also give you a solid foundation to answer this question.
Who do you admire?
This question can really get you thinking about the qualities you value and can help you to direct your aspirations. You may think of people you admire for their job-related accomplishments, or simply for who they are as people.
Once you’ve determined the qualities you admire in others, you can begin to institute them in your own life.
How much additional effort are you able to put in to achieve your career goals?
There might be a certain job that you’re interested in, but it requires another degree or certificate. And maybe going back to school is just not practical for you at this point in your life. That’s perfectly understandable; going back to school is a huge commitment of time and money. It just means that you may need to get creative.
Depending on what it is you’d like to do, you may be able to find free courses that you can fit into your spare time. Self-directed learning has become more available and accepted.
Look for entry-level positions for the job you’d like. You may qualify for the position with the skills you have and then are able to gain skills and knowledge on the job.
There are many ways to get to where you’d like to be, they don’t all have to be conventional.
Find people on social media who are in your dream position and follow them. You will learn a ton about the industry, what it takes to make it, as well as potentially make valuable connections that can help you to achieve your goal.
If none of these are available to you, begin to pay attention to the aspects of your current position that you really enjoy. Focus on those. Does your current company have a position like the one you want? Seek cross-training opportunities to learn more and gain skills. After some time you will be able to apply those to the position that you are really interested in.
Ultimately, if you are not currently where you’d like to be, there are many roads you can take to get there. It’s most important that you just take the first step – regardless of how small that step may feel.
You are a wonderful collection of unique skills, experiences, and perceptions. And you are at your best when you are interested and invested in what you are doing. If you have it, take the time to truly get to know yourself. It will be the best thing you ever do. Future you will thank you!
The Dark Side of Perfectionism
Do you often find it tough to relax and unwind? You work hard, but feel like your best isn’t good enough? Worry that people will look down on you if you aren’t performing flawlessly? All of these are sneaky signs that you might be suffering from a case of perfectionism. Suffering from perfectionism? You heard that right.
As a culture, we uphold perfectionism as a positive quality that we should be proud of. So, it’s no surprise that perfectionism is on the rise. But it is not something we should glorify. In fact, perfectionism can be detrimental to your mental health.
What is Perfectionism?
At this point, you may be confused. How can doing a great job and striving to do your best be a bad thing? Well, let’s back up. Perfectionism goes beyond doing your best. When you suffer from perfectionism, excellence is merely okay, and your best never feels good enough. It proves harmful to your mental health, your wellbeing, and even your relationships.
In a study on perfectionism, two prominent experts identified three main variations which are characterized by the following:
- Self-oriented perfectionism - individuals impose unrealistically high standards on themselves
- Socially prescribed perfectionism - people feel that others expect them to be perfect
- Other-oriented perfectionism - individuals have unreasonably high expectations of others
Why is Perfectionism Harmful?
It is not uncommon to struggle with some combination of the three, all of which are problematic for different reasons. Additionally, just because someone is a perfectionist in one area of life does not necessarily mean that they will be in all. Someone may be a perfectionist at work but very forgiving of mistakes at home, or vice versa. But even struggling with perfectionism in one area can have negative consequences.
Holding yourself to unachievable standards is harmful because it can not only prevent you from doing work you’re proud of, but it can also seriously hurt your wellbeing. The fear of not being perfect on the first try has the potential to cause you to procrastinate, which can result in undue stress and anxiety.
Procrastination in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and may even fuel creativity, but in order for it to be beneficial, the procrastinator must not be afraid to fail.
But if the procrastination is due to perfectionism, it prevents experimentation and squashes creativity, and leads to you running up against time constraints. This ultimately causes stress and can compound your feelings of inadequacy, a truly vicious cycle. Living with a harsh inner critic also has severe consequences for your health. Researchers have found perfectionism to be associated with conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Socially Prescribed Perfectionism
Socially prescribed perfectionism is especially detrimental to your mental health. This variation of perfectionism has been linked to anxiety, depression, and unfortunately, suicidal ideation for some.
You are human and as such, a social creature. It is naturally inherent to want to be viewed positively by those you care about. But if you take that to the extreme of believing you need to be perfect to be worthy of respect, the effects can prove crippling mentally and emotionally.
Socially prescribed perfectionism has the potential to harm not only you but your relationships, by causing you to become closed off because of the pressure you feel to maintain unrealistic expectations. An even worse result is that you may struggle to ask for help, fearing it would be viewed as a sign of ineptitude.
Other-oriented perfectionism harms relationships in a different way. Working closely with someone who has this type of perfectionism can be exhausting and demoralizing. Other-oriented perfectionists often lack the soft skills that are crucial in a workplace, such as empathy, communication, and adaptability.
Those working with this type of perfectionist deal with a lack of understanding and forgiveness, rather than healthy constructive criticism, when mistakes are made. Mistakes are not seen as opportunities to learn and grow but instead are used to shame and demoralize.
This will cause people to be afraid to communicate openly because they are worried about disappointing the other. All of these factors lead to a toxic and strained relationship that is damaging to both partners, as well as their performance.
How to Improve Perfectionist Tendencies
Recognize when you’re being a perfectionist
The first step in addressing any perfectionist tendencies is to recognize them. You’re off to a great start by reading this article. You can also check out this site for a more comprehensive list of indicators of perfectionism.
Ultimately cultivating more self-awareness and mindfulness will help bring your perfectionism and other harmful tendencies to your attention. Many people improve these skills through habitual practices such as mindful walking, yoga, or journaling.
Prioritize getting things done over getting things perfect
Earlier we mentioned the vicious cycle of procrastination. The only way to break this cycle is just to get in there and start working. Know that your work is probably not going to meet your standards right away, and that’s perfectly okay. First drafts are meant to be rough. The purpose is to get your ideas down on paper, however messy they may look. Iterations are where you can build upon those ideas and perfect them.
Accepting What You Can Control and What You Can’t
Learning to let go of what you can’t control will help address all three variations of perfectionism. Starting with self-oriented perfectionism, when you become more aware that there are factors out of your control, such as resource or time limitations, it helps you to be more forgiving of yourself.
The next step is to learn to base your self-esteem more on the factors that are completely in your control. For example, rather than beating yourself up over your performance, you can celebrate how hard you’ve worked. Instead of being hard on yourself for struggling in your personal relationships, you can be proud of how much effort you put into being a kind person.
In terms of socially prescribed perfectionism, understanding that you have no control over how others see you is crucial. This may sound scary, but it can be quite freeing. You are in control of your actions and your choices, and nothing else. Put in your best effort, and do what you love, and you will be proud of the person you are. If someone views you negatively, that is not a reflection of you. And keep in mind that most people are not judging you as harshly as you may think, so working unnecessarily hard to please them doesn’t benefit anyone.
Additionally, letting go is especially relevant to other-oriented perfectionism. It’s important to give others space to make mistakes, learn, and grow. This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer input and support to help move their process along. But ultimately their work is their own, and there is no need to add to your plate by worrying about things that aren’t your responsibility.
A huge cause of perfectionism is failing to appreciate the amount of effort it takes to achieve greatness. You can’t expect yourself to be an amazing athlete never having trained before, or to have Nobel-prize-worthy ideas at the drop of a hat. Great results take time and effort and usually come from iterations of the original idea. Expecting perfection on a first try sets you up for failure and disappointment. Everything is a process, and trusting your process will allow you to be more creative and gain confidence in your abilities. Practice makes perfect, so just keep practicing – and you will reach perfection, instead of chasing perfectionism.
Imperfection is what makes us human, it’s a beautiful thing, and it allows you to discover things that you never would have imagined.
Employee Motivations - What's Important to You?
The landscape of work has been forever altered by what we've collectively experienced over the last two years, and with it, employee motivations. Many have taken the time to reconsider what is truly important, both at work and at home. Values have changed, and people are making concerted efforts to craft a different experience. Finding employment aligning with your values may feel daunting, but the benefits to your mental health cannot be overstated.
If you’re like most employees, you want to work for a company that grants you autonomy – keeping you engaged and motivated. The flexibility to support a positive life-work balance is also shown to be very important, quite often, even more so than compensation. Additionally, you would likely prefer to work for a company with a great culture: one which supports your well-being, helps you stave off burnout, and aligns with your values.
All these requests are perfectly reasonable, and fortunately, it is currently an employee’s job market. Employees are continuing to quit in record numbers. Employers are scrambling to fill positions, and workers are no longer settling for positions that don’t meet their needs.
Keep reading to learn how you can secure a position that meets all your requirements.
Flexibility on the Job
Having autonomy at work means you have the freedom to decide when and how you work. This should not suggest there is no oversight from upper management. It simply means when you are told what needs to be done, it is left to you to decide how you will meet the goal.
In some companies, you may be allowed to determine when you choose to work, setting your own schedule. In others, you may be allowed to decide how your work is done based on your education and talent. There are varying degrees of autonomy that could be offered, familiarizing yourself with them will determine how much you think you may need.
Studies have shown employees experiencing more autonomy in their job results in increased job satisfaction and productivity. Autonomy is also responsible for increased motivation and happiness and decreased employee turnover.
With positive outcomes that result from autonomy within the organization, one would think it would be standard practice. But finding a company operating this way can prove challenging, although more companies are considering its importance.
With how important this aspect is, it would behoove you to do research to ensure the company you’re eyeing trusts its employees. Determining the level of autonomy offered by a company during the interview can feel intimidating. Keep in mind, that their response to your inquiry should give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.
Your life is complex and multi-faceted. You have a lot going on in your personal life; you have a family and passion projects, and you have a life. You need a work structure that accommodates these responsibilities and any others you determine.
Prior to the pandemic, you were expected to fit your personal life into your off-hours without question, and you did. The pandemic changed everything, including what you believe is important. With a forced reevaluation of life, it should surprise no one that overworking while missing your life ranks poorly.
The pandemic has helped to normalize more flexible work arrangements. It has also brought forward conversations about work structure. During an interview, you can get an idea of flexibility by asking questions about how the organization has shifted its expectations to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
It’s important to note though, that while general conversations about structure are probably to-be-expected, it’s not a great idea to bring up your personal situation right off the bat. If you do have a specific need for flexibility, don’t give too much information about the situation, as this can bring out unintentional biases. Additionally, make sure to emphasize how you’ve previously been successful in your roles while managing your other demands.
After several false starts, companies are starting to seriously discuss a return to the office. What that looks like will depend on the company; some are happy to remain remote, while others are toying with hybrid options, and still, others institute a mandatory return to the office.
Some employees aren’t ready to give up the autonomy and freedom they have gained over the last two years of remote work. In a survey of 1,000 workers, over half indicated that they would prefer to work remotely, permanently. If you are one who is strongly opposed to a return to the office, you may be able to work with your supervisor to gain more flexibility. You can try to do this by showing them that your productivity has flourished during remote work.
Otherwise, you may wish to pursue opportunities that allow more flexibility in this regard. There is still uncertainty going forward, and some companies have yet to make decisive plans. However, if the option for remote or hybrid work is high on your priority list, you’ll want to know what a company’s return-to-work plan looks like.
Pay attention to how the company justifies its future plans, and what factors they consider in determining whether to be in-person, remote, or hybrid. If they have not indicated plans for remote or hybrid options, it can be assumed they will expect employees fully in person. But if they have adjusted for long-term remote work (such as starting a hoteling policy, where workers can reserve desks on an as-needed basis) they will likely provide more flexibility.
More workers are asking for raises or increased starting salaries. With the increased demand for employees, employers know that they need to provide appealing wages to remain competitive. If you’re looking for a salary increase at your current job, check out our tips on how to ask for a raise. If you’re looking for a new job and want to know how to negotiate a higher starting salary, read on.
Do your research
Before you begin negotiating your salary, it’s important that you get a preliminary idea of what is reasonable for your position. A great place to start is to use tools such as glassdoor, Payscale, and salary.com. These sites can help you explore the typical going rates for your role.
An article on salary negotiations by the Wallstreet Journal features some expert advice from workplace consultant Lindsey Pollak. She suggests asking company-specific questions on areas such as typical wages and salary negotiations. This will help you better grasp what wages you can expect, as well as help you better prepare for negotiating your salary.
Rely on your performance to justify why you deserve a raise
Prices of everything from groceries to gas are up, and inflation is at play. It makes sense to use the higher cost of living to justify your request for a higher salary, as that seems only fair. However, compensation experts advise against it. It is suggested to be better to focus on your specific performance and achievements, rather than outside influences. Inflation impacts everyone, but your performance and contributions are unique to you.
When asking for a higher salary, it’s important that you find a way to stand out. You should emphasize your value as an employee and explain why you are worth the investment.
Don’t be the first to suggest a number
While it might seem like being the first to suggest a number would be advantageous, negotiation experts advocate against it. The reason for this is that you risk anchoring yourself to a lower salary range. If they offer a salary that is lower than you expected, that is when you should reveal your expectations, and let them know you had anticipated a higher rate for the role.
Another element that has become a deciding factor for many employees is company culture. You spend a great deal of your time at work, and you want to work in a place that feels good and allows you to grow. A big part of this depends on upper management’s style of management, as this affects employee motivations.
The management style of the person you report to will have a great effect (for good or bad) on the company culture, but most importantly on you. Having a great boss can enhance your quality of life at work and at home. Make sure to be on the lookout for these qualities when you are interviewing your prospective employers. A company with great culture will show concern for its employee’s well-being and will take active steps to curtail burnout. Ensuring your values are in alignment from the start will save you from much stress and regret in the future.
In a recent survey, 68% percent of Millennials (50% in 2019), 81% of Gen Zers (75% in 2019), and 50% of all respondents (34% in 2019) reported having left roles for mental health reasons. The survey noted here was conducted prior to the pandemic, and mental health issues have only compounded. Mental health matters and you deserve to work for a company that recognizes this. Whether or not the company you work for actively plans mental health initiatives, it is a good idea to maintain healthy boundaries, in order to maintain your own peace.
It should not be difficult to get a sense of whether a company takes mental health seriously. Many companies have implemented some mental health support such as access to counseling apps and company-wide mental health days. These are good indicators that a company is making progress toward mental health awareness. Most important, however, is to pay attention to the overall culture, and how much empathy and flexibility they make space for.
Burnout is real. And considering everything we all have been through over the last two years, many are feeling it. Check out our blog on avoiding burnout for some tips you can take on an individual level. You’ll also want to make sure that your current or future job is conducive to fighting off burnout.
One way you can do this is by looking into attrition rates. If there has recently been a high number of departures, this could be a bad sign. It indicates there are factors driving workers away, and the workers left behind are tasked with picking up the slack.
Additionally, if you get a sense that an organization is desperate to hire you, be careful. This could mean that you’ll be overloaded with work as soon as you join on and may not receive the training needed to be successful.
Values matter. Working for a company that doesn’t share your values makes it difficult for you to stay motivated to bring your best to the job. In a recent survey, 71% of workers indicated that they would be willing to leave an organization whose values didn’t align with their own. So, how can you get an idea of a company’s values?
You can start by doing some research. Look at a company’s website and the language that they use. Pay attention to whether they list specific actions they are taking to reflect these values. Also, read laterally by examining other sources and see what they might have to say about your potential company’s history and values.
Furthermore, you can really get a sense of a company’s values by making them a central topic in your interview. This article by Harvard Business Review has some great strategies for conducting a values-focused interview. Start by identifying a few of your key values. Then ask open-indicated questions that give your interviewer a chance to reveal how important these values are to the company.
There is much to think about while looking for your perfect position within the perfect (for you) company. Having a strong sense of self and solid goals will help you find what you are looking for. It is easy to let your excitement drive your decision-making but taking your time to do your research will pay off with a perfect match. Just think of how happy the future you will be when you are working in the position you have been striving for, within a company aligning with your values.
Flexibility and well-being should not be considered perks of a job, they should come as standard. The life-work balance you agree to for any company can be to your own detriment if you are not careful. Make sure you are able to fit your work into the life you want, and not let your work take up too much of your life. You only get one life. Never forget that you are human first and you deserve a beautiful one.
Career burnout is a genuine phenomenon, with nearly two-thirds of full-time workers having experienced it at one time or another. Rates of burnout are particularly high when people are in the middle of their careers.
Professionals who were once energized by their jobs can start to feel drained and diminished by them. You deserve to have a career that inspires you, challenges you, is meaningful, and aligns with your values, but doesn’t take more from you than it gives back.
So, what measures can you take to avoid mid-career burnout?
Make sure your job serves you well
Choosing a position that will allow you to achieve your desired lifestyle is an incredibly important proactive action that will help you avoid mid-career burnout. Check-in with yourself:
- What is essential for you in a job or career long-term?
- What kinds of stressors you can handle and not handle?
- What volume of work are you willing to take on?
Look for work that excites you and that you find meaningful. Also, consider how much autonomy a position will offer you. When researching, look for employers that are taking actions to increase employee satisfaction.
What burnout looks like
It’s normal to feel tired or overwhelmed from time to time, but if these states are dominating your life, it may mean that you’re reaching your limit. Burnout looks slightly different for everyone.
Burnt-out individuals may become apathetic about the outcomes of their work and have trouble focusing. They may feel constantly stressed, fatigued, or uncharacteristically bothered by small annoyances. They might notice that their performance is slipping.
If you notice some of these signs in yourself, it might be time to take action.
What can you do about it?
Be mindful of how you spend your free time
The activities you do outside of work have the power to either exacerbate or appease burnout. Some unhealthy habits may actually be contributing to your burnout more than you realize.
For example, you might think that mindlessly scrolling through social media is helping you decompress, when it’s actually eating up more time than you’re aware of and worsening your anxiety.
Spending time exercising, learning a new hobby, or with friends and family can be very rewarding and beneficial for your mental state.
That being said, it’s your time, and you can spend it, however, the heck you want to! Do what brings you the most delight and fulfillment. Regardless of which activities you prefer it’s critical that you’re active, rather than passive, in deciding what to do with your time.
While it’s admirable to be responsible and to go above and beyond at your job, it’s important to notice when you may be taking on more than you can handle. Being available for work 24/7 is very taxing, and if you take on too much it’s only a matter of time before your performance and your mental health start to suffer.
If you were the last person to take the lead on the last three projects, and you’re feeling exhausted, maybe it’s time to let someone else take charge this time. You may wish to have a conversation with your employer or your co-workers to clarify when they can expect you to be online, and when you are on your own time.
Ask for support
Mid-career burnout can be extremely frustrating and upsetting but know that you are not stuck and you don’t have to go through it alone.
Talk to a therapist, or ask for advice from friends who may have had similar experiences. It may also be helpful to express your feelings to your boss and explore ways that you can be challenged or supported in your position.
After all, employee dissatisfaction is not only harmful to the employee, but to the company as well. It is in everyone’s best interest that they hear out your concerns and help you make the changes that you need to.
Add joy to your workday
Whether it’s listening to your favorite playlist while you work, treating yourself to a delicious lunch, or focusing on the parts of your job that you find the most enjoyable, a little joy can go a long way in combatting burnout.
Consider a job change
If you’ve done everything you can and you still feel deeply unsatisfied with your current position, consider your options, and what it might look like to change jobs, or even shift your career direction.
If you decide that changing paths is what’s best, get specific about what you like and dislike about your current job. Use your findings to propel your job search and find a position that better aligns with your goals, strengths, and values.