The grass is always greener?

“The forest shapes the tree. The environment shapes the person. The family shapes the child. The workplace shapes the performance.” – Leigh Farnell, The Top 10 Ways To Create A Better Workplace.

A mere six months ago, you would have found my girlfriends and I around a dinner table discussing those “happy people”. This conversation always stemmed from an initial, “What have you been up to?” to which all of us one by one replied in monotone, “Work”. The banter naturally progressed onto people gaining enjoyment out of their jobs.

“Who are they?” one friend would state.
“They make me sick.” Another would say.

I guess the thought that our lives beyond university now revolved around full time work and commitments began to make us feel physically ill. Each of us at that time was dissatisfied in our separate fields and supposedly there were people out there relishing in the daily grind? Seriously, who are they?

Fast forward to the present, I am a hypocrite. I have jumped the fence on our discussion point and become one of those “delusional” people, happy in their workplace.  A change of employer, but remaining in the same field, completing the same job, has left me in greener pastures. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this garden is full of flowers and butterflies 24/7. There are occasional patches of weeds and dry spots, but overall, this side of the fence is worth the maintenance. So the question lies with the employer, what are the ideals a workplace must incoporate to create the perfect, lush growing environment?

Researching this topic, there were various different concoctions, including: diversity, job security, benefits (including health care), reward and recognition programs, positive praise, use of skills, payment on par with industry standards and training and advancement opportunities, just to name a few. However, most referred back to what seems like the ideal model, the Google DNA. Mark C Crowley expands on this concept in his article Not A Happy Accident: How Google Deliberately Designs Workplace Satisfaction. He lists these top four highlights as integral parts:

  1. Being a great place to work is in Google’s DNA
  2. Google ensures people have inspiring work
  3. Employees have uncommon freedom and control of their time
  4. Google is a democracy and employees are given a significant voice

At the end of the day, various personalities integrate into the workplace diversely. What works for one, may not work for the masses. The challenge for the employer is to create autonomy within each employee, thus cementing their input and investment into the company. Positive relationships within immediate team is also an integral part, as well as afore mentioned points, however I believe personal investment creates motivation to maintain that piece of the garden as the development of vibrant flowers is the visible reward.

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