The Joy of the Job – What Women Want

The Joy of the Job –  What Women Want

The joy of the job.  Two “j” words that many people would not put together.  According to Gallop, it is estimated that 70% of the workforce in the US is not actively engaged in their work.  People are not wild about what they do or where they do it.  There is little joy in the workplace.

If you look around your workplace, how many truly joyful people do you see?  How many people have a smile on their face?  When was the last time you felt joy at your job?

It is almost a given that you don’t like your job, especially in the cube dominated office buildings throughout the country.  They say that those who work more flexible schedules and remotely are slightly more engaged than those in the office.  Oddly enough, women tend to be slightly more engaged than men.  That despite the fact women face “hiring bias, lower pay, and the glass ceiling”.  “The research from Gallup Daily tracking in 2012 showed that 33% of women were engaged, 50% were not engaged, and 17% were actively disengaged. This compares with 28% engaged, 53% not engaged, and 19% actively disengaged among men — not a tremendous difference, but a statistically significant one.”

I don’t want to question why women are slightly more engaged than men, (the pessimistic part of my personality would say we’ve learned to accept less and the optimistic side says we see the positive in more things than men do), but I do want to explore how women can find engagement in the workplace – the joy of the job.

Being joyful at work is important to me.  I’m not talking about being happy, I’m talking about that open hearted feeling one gets when one is free to be themselves, seen, heard, and valued by those surrounding them.  That’s what I see as joy.  Happy is when I get an unexpected bonus or my favorite song is on the radio.  Joy is when I create something, whether it’s a new employee program or I start a new business.  That is the joy of the job.7890

I’ve been miserable in some of my jobs.  I’ve sat in my car at 7:55 before that 8:00 start, holding back the tears and making myself go into the office one more time. It wasn’t the work that kept me sitting in my car listening to Joni Mitchell or James Taylor until the latest possible moment.  No, it was the culture – one that forbid mistakes and demanded perfection.  A culture where no one dared do anything that wasn’t a sure thing.  No one dared try something that might not work.  Creativity was stifled and the joy was dead.

That is what kills joy in the job.  Many companies have become so risk adverse that no one wants to risk standing out.  This is particularly difficult for women.  Our relationship seeking tendency makes us more likely to hold back from taking a chance, not just because we don’t want to fail at our work, but we will worry about what our colleagues think of us.  We are much less likely to take a chance than men are, and that leads to missed opportunities to get more money, better jobs, and more recognition.

Brené Brown, author, professor, and Oprah’s latest find, tells stories from her academic research about talented people leaving their organization because failure was not allowed.  One company had two white boards.  The “Winner” board and the “Looser” board and each week the top employees were listed on the Winner board and the people who had a bad week, ended up on the Loser board.  Even if you had spent months on the Winner board, one day on the Looser board could undo every connection you had with the company.  As B.B. King says, “The thrill (joy) is gone, Baby”.

If we make the decision to use our creative nature, we can find joy in the job.  We can create an environment that encourages ideas and allows people to fail. When have you felt joy in the job?  What kind of courage did you have to put your creative idea out there?  Share your story with us, and we hope, if you haven’t felt it lately, you find your joy in your job.

I am passionate about helping women make the most of their skills and talents in the workplace, as well as encouraging them to ask for what they want and deserve. Creating Ask Ajna with Jae Lynn has been a labor of love and if we can help women find their authentic voice and support one another, we will build a community of change.

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