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Leadership Thought #209 – 15 Things Employers and Employees Can Do To Make Work More Enjoyable

September 4, 2015

Free Group oO People Having A Meeting Stock Photo

As we approach another Labor Day it’s depressing how many people dread going to work.  I’ve read many different statistics, some saying as much as 90% of employees are unhappy with their job.  Since we spend a significant part of our adult life working, this means that most people will spend a good deal of time unhappy or uninspired in their career.  I have a tough time getting my head wrapped around this issue.  Why would employees or employers accept this reality?  This must be why individuals change jobs so frequently these days.  They are searching for something the data says they have little chance of ever finding.

As in all endeavors, success and happiness is a two-way street.  While very few people end up with their dream job, there are strategies/tactics both employers and employees can use to increase the overall levels of workplace satisfaction:


  1. Starting at the very top of the organization, make sure that the leaders/managers/supervisors model the positive behaviors you would like to instill in the culture – treat people with courtesy and respect;
  2. Use a basic personality profiling tools as part of the hiring process (and for existing employees) to get a better understanding of who you are dealing with and the best ways to connect with them – make sure their supervisors have a copy of the results and know how to use the information;
  3. Ensure that there is no ambiguity in job descriptions and that everyone involved knows what success looks like for a given position;
  4. Develop career plans for all employees and be honest about advancement potential;
  5. Every few years conducts a comprehensive skills assessment where you match the needs of the company against the talents of individual employees; do your best to align people with what they are good at and interested in;
  6. Make sure everyone has the proper level of training they need to do their job well, especially your supervisors and managers, on how to be good supervisors and managers;
  7. Get away from the annual performance review model and have more frequent conversations (recommend quarterly) about performance gaps and accomplishments;
  8. Publicly acknowledge it when employees go the extra mile or achieve a personal best;
  9. Conduct employee satisfaction surveys every six months and track the results by supervisor; administer a comprehensive 360 Degree assessment tools for anyone in a management position or higher every other year;
  10. Establish an Employee Morale Committee which meets on a quarterly basis to provide feedback and recommendations – membership should be a good representation of employees and have your point person on HR lead this group;
  11. Whenever possible be flexible in your work model – leverage technology to make people’s work lives easier;
  12. Get rid of “bad apples” quickly – they demoralize other people and taint your leadership credibility;
  13. Be honest and transparent in company-wide communications; people want to know the truth and in the absence of the truth they will make it up on their own which usually ends up being different from reality;
  14. Provide access to employee training opportunities around real-life issues such as personal financial planning, buying a home; managing eldercare responsibilities, etc.;
  15. Sponsor semi-regular social events at work – strive to create a sense of community.


  1. Practice regular self-reflection and continually assess where you are against where you would like to be – I encourage daily journaling;
  2. Take responsibility for your own career and be proactive about gaining new skills and taking on new assignments;
  3. Volunteer for committees or work groups that stretch you outside of your comfort zone;
  4. See yourself as part of a team not just an individual performer;
  5. Be accountable for your actions – don’t pass the buck;
  6. Ask for help when you don’t know how to do something and speak up when you are unsure or disagree with the approach – don’t just nod your head yes because this will only lead to worse stress/conflict down the road;
  7. Instead of spending time identifying everything that is wrong or broken about the organization, make sure you also look for and acknowledge what is right and working well;
  8. Complain up not down – have the courage of your convictions;
  9. Don’t just complain when you don’t like something, also offer well thought out solutions – there is a difference between a genuine complaint and whining;
  10. Be up front and honest with your supervisor about your personal situation including being proactive about communicating issues that may affect you at work – in most cases people will be understanding and work with you;
  11. If you are having problems at home deal with them like an adult rather than avoiding the issue and transferring the stress to your work environment;
  12. Focus on living a healthier lifestyle – fit bodies and clear minds lead to a happier outlook on life;
  13. Treat people with courtesy and respect – model the behavior you want to receive from others especially when it is not always easy to do so;
  14. Have passions/interests that you cultivate outside of work – strive to be a multi-dimensional person;
  15. After spending some time working on it, if you are truly unhappy with the organization or job then leave and do something else – all parties will be happier.