Are you disgruntled with your job or the career path you are taking and wondered where it all went wrong? Probably, you started with all the hope and aspirations that come with a new venture, but slowly and surely, this nagging thing in your head starts telling you it’s not alright, whether or not you are highly paid or incentivized.
I have always admired a lady that serves as a tea girl at some institution where I once worked. She was all the time smartly dressed to the detail, and served tea like it was the juiciest job ever created.
On the other hand, there were of course a number of better paid professionals who were constantly grumbling about this and that, and really hating every moment of their working experience.
Staff retention is a challenge and a constant source of headaches for employers. If it isn’t the salary, it’s the working conditions, or the working relations, or simply the need to move on.
Surprisingly, poorly paid employees have demonstrated a relatively low turnover….well, until such a time when their salaries or positions are raised! From my own experience, the biggest incentive for any employee is the challenge attached to it, and the feeling of being useful and resourceful, and what is referred to as job satisfaction.
Once that goes, no incentive could ever match up to it.
However, quite a number of factors may impact on the mindset of the employee, enabling him to hang on in there, or actually get to love the job as time goes by.
An important one is leadership. The quality of leadership determines to a large extent the challenge within. Is it weak, strong, harsh or kind? How well focused on issues?
Somewhat, a mix of all these may keep up the challenge, and the will of an employee to prove himself. It is still perplexing how some very harsh employers manage to retain staff, and kind ones don’t.
At the end of the day, an employee requires to know that whoever is in charge knows his job, and is confident enough to correct or guide the entire process.
This assurance alone may keep an employee at work whether or not there is enough job satisfaction. My largest motivation came from a boss who put aside 3 weeks of personal training, then let us out like hounds to work.
The trust and confidence he put in our ability to manage his company within such a short while was so inspiring, we forgot we were underpaid.
Another determinant is the level of team work within the institution. A good work relationship with colleagues increases the level of contentment and fulfillment at work.
Put it this way, if you have backstabbing colleagues like we usually do in Rwanda, chances are you will fight back (if you are the relentless type), or simply move on, if you hate unnecessary antagonism.
According to Jeff Atwood, (Programming and Human Factors), “The people you choose to work with are the most accurate predictor of job satisfaction”. When a team respects each other’s capacity and contribution to work, they tend to work together like clock work, and are more creative and innovative.
But there is also the element of personal character. Some people are by nature aggressive, passive or interactive.
Depending on the kind of job they are doing, they will as such feel under-utilized, inept, suffocated, or job satisfied. An aggressive character will always seek for more and can never be contented with enough.
Such a person will always look for greener or more challenging pastures and may find problems with his/her boss leadership abilities, usually ending up self-employed. The passive person may care less what else happens as long as he is contented with his income and work environment, while the interactive person may be bored by a desk job.
Interestingly, job satisfaction may build the ambition of an employee, causing him to seek for greener pastures. It may help explain why staff retention becomes more difficult as you go up. The better a salary or position you hold, the more able you feel to take a step higher.
Perhaps the best reward of all is being a professional or expert at the job you are doing and thoroughly enjoying it. This has been the greatest wish of my career, and perhaps for many others.
As is often preached, if you are called to sweep the road, sweep it like it was the best job you’ve ever done.
However, that is easier said than done. In most cases, you have to love the job and wish to be the best sweeper in the world who finds challenge in creating solutions to the best sweeping practices, and is sought after for his skill.
Without this satisfaction and appreciation, the job you are doing will always be problematic or boring, and will heavily impact on how long you keep at it, whether or not you have all the incentives in the world.