Matt recently posed the question, “Do you need to LOVE your job to be happy”, which sprung a debate between many Gen Y minds. In three sentences I’ll try to summarize mattChevy’s thoughts, but before reading further it may be best you spend a couple minutes and read what he wrote.
Basically, Matt thinks the big “L” word may be a bit too strong when considering work. He insists that maybe love should be saved for your spouse, kids, or even your dog. When it comes down to it, Matt hopes you “Enjoy the journey” and “Let life be about the living.”
When reading his thoughts, my HR mind immediately thought of two things — Work/Life Balance and Employee Engagement. The level of employee engagement can many times be from the result of work/life balance. My opinion is that most people won’t say they love their job, but that in itself doesn’t mean they can’t be happy overall. This is where a strong work/life balance program comes into play. When a company enforces a top notch WLB program, employees can enjoy flexible schedules, higher than average paid vacation, and maybe most important know that their employer actually does CARE ABOUT EMPLOYEES. Knowing, as well as feeling that your employer does care how decisions affect you is powerful.
Most HR pro’s will point out two levels of employee engagement — being engaged and disengaged. My theory of employee engagement actually contains three levels.
Level 1 – Extreme Employee Disengagement – In this level, job satisfaction is terribly low. Job stress imposes on outside personal relationships many times. A strong work/life balance program won’t help the employee in some cases. An employee in Level 1 absolutely hates their job, and is most likely a current job seeker. They need out, and their employer probably is looking for ways to push them out as well.
Level 2 – Engagement – In this level, employees are satisfied with their position, although they may not LOVE their job or have the most passion for the work they do. They have no problem working hard on a daily basis to complete tasks and are generally content with their job. A strong work/life balance program helps to retain employees in this category. Level 2 employees have their ups and downs in regards to job satisfaction, but overall feel pretty good. Most people are in Level 2.
Level 3 – Extreme Employee Engagement – In this level, employees are extremely passionate and committed to work. These employees may be surrounded by work even when outside of work. Hard work = success and happiness. Work may get in the way of personal relationships for some, which can create stressful situations outside of their job.
I understand that not every working individual can be categorized as a Level 1, 2, or 3 employee, but it’s my theory! My thoughts are that most successful people fall into Level 2 and Level 3.
So, does knowing what you love = an opportunity for happiness?
What I mean by this is if you KNOW your enjoyment in life comes from a hobby or activity that is not related to work, than maybe you should look for employers who value providing a balance of work and life. Maybe you enjoy spending ample time with family, long-weekend fishing trips, committing to a 6 day per-week meat head gym routine, or even watching Oprah every single day. Or, maybe what you love is work. Once you know where your enjoyment comes from and what makes you happy, you can decide just how important work/life balance programs are for you.
My last point is hopefully obvious. Life isn’t all fun and games. Level 2 employes need to realize when outside activities should be cut back. We all go through times when extra work is needed for our job. Besides, money is critical for many of our favorite activities. Level 3 individuals that strive on constant work should know when to take a step back and relax. Work will around for a long time, but there will come a day when it doesn’t. Who and/or what will be there for you when work isn’t?
But neither Matt nor I are going to tell you what to do. It’s your life, love what you do and ______ the rest. (which movie is that line from?)
What level of engagement are you currently in, and how does your (if they have one) employers work/life balance program play into things? Let me hear from you!
Photo Credit – Johnny Colino