The Great Reshuffle Won’t Increase Job Satisfaction Unless Companies Do This

Have you heard? Beyonce has instructed her fans to turn their backs on lousy jobs where employers work them to death and consistently display disrespectful behaviors.

Her new single, Break My Soul, is heralded as the Anthem for the Great Resignation.

However, The Great Resignation is a Great Reshuffling since most are leaving their jobs for new positions they believe will meet their needs better. And abuse isn’t the principal reason people offer for seeking new work.

Most say they are considering leaving their current positions for jobs they believe will provide them with more pay and greater job satisfaction.

Will the new jobs they secure deliver? Recent evidence suggests probably not.

A surprising percentage of those who left their jobs over the past year already have regrets only months after they made the switch.

While job changes may secure better pay, any increases in job satisfaction will be short-lived unless workplace culture changes significantly. And the needed transformations require discarding some long-held assumptions.

Assumption #1: Success Comes from a Hustling Culture

Many, if not most, workplace cultures rest on the belief that organizational, business and personal success comes from constant hustling for short-term gains.

Shareholders press for high quarterly returns. Executives are rewarded for setting and achieving increasingly aggressive targets. What used to be aspirational stretch goals become do-or-die ambitions.

The result? Actual time spent working climbs. For example, the average number of hours worked in the United States reached new heights in 2021.

Companies push people to work longer and harder. Yet workers seek greater balance in their lives.

While leaders speak of the need to attend to employee well-being, organizational cultures do not align with these proclamations.

And, in all likelihood, ambitious workers who want to get ahead internalize the expectations of what it takes to succeed.

Assumption #2: The Best Form of Leadership is Benevolent Dictatorship

Many leaders buy into the “benevolent dictator” model of leadership. This framework assumes that organizations are not democracies and that the leaders at the top ultimately hold all the power due to their positions of authority.

Since these all-powerful persons are benevolent, the story goes, they use their clout to create positive change for the benefit of the larger community rather than for their self-interests.

Ideally, benevolent leaders incorporate morality, spirituality, and responsiveness to the community into their leadership. They are open to diverse points of view and subordinate their egos to the common good.

However, this ideal presents a high bar for leaders to scale.

Most are likely to fall short.

Assumption #3: A Company Purpose is Good Enough

The workforce is sending a distinct and consistent message about what they expect from their employers. They want them to serve a clear purpose.

And increasingly, companies are accommodating by creating purpose statements. While a great first step, merely stating a purpose does not take the place of action.

A company purpose statement comes alive for employees when it is incorporated into the culture. Employees believe the purpose is authentic only if they see it demonstrated through decisions and actions.

Even then, high-level action isn’t enough to inspire employee satisfaction. They want to engage with the purpose.

Employees want to live their purpose through their work.

In a 2021 report, McKinsey reported that 70% of employees said their work defines their sense of purpose. However, only 15% felt that their work meets their needs for purpose.

As the McKinsey report points out, companies must address the disconnect between company purpose and employees’ jobs. The authors suggest all leaders in the organization take responsibility for closing this gap.

Organizations are still a long way from successfully addressing the discontent in the workforce successfully and sustainably.

And most likely, workers have not yet realized that job switching may fail to lead to long-term career fulfillment. But inevitably, disillusionment will set in when they run up against problems similar to those they believe they left behind.

A long-term fix will not be easy. Yet finding sustainable solutions to the problems is necessary for organizations’ ongoing success and employees’ well-being.

The answers lie in examining the assumptions upon which companies build cultures. As with everything else in life, a promising future depends on discarding the beliefs that are no longer working and replacing them with new frameworks for a workplace unlikely to ever return to its pre-2020 state.

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