The workplace has been on my mind lately. Perhaps it is because people close to me have been gainfully unemployed for a while. Or because my children are growing fast and are starting to think about their own employment future.
Looking for a job in this day and age has changed significantly. You don’t just circle the want-ads. You now have to be super tech-savvy in your job discovery process.
Web portals such as Xing and LinkedIn are not just social networking sites. They are designed to encourage that the right person find the right job. If your workplace provides you more woes than wonderfulness, listen up.
LinkedIn is great for business people seeking connections. It’s what Facebook was for college students in the very beginning. And so I was intrigued by the book, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, written by the founders of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh. I wanted to find out more about the motivation of the site’s founders.
I can sum the book up in very simple terms. The authors encourage employers to look at their hired talent as an investment. Think of it as a club member whose golf game can only improve the overall quality of club life. So you invite him for free lessons, give him food and drink along the way and ensure that life is so sweet, he’d never think of leaving.
But if he does, make sure you keep your grass green. Because he’ll come running back — or at least speak highly of you — forevermore.
Employers often shy away from offering training because they think somehow they won’t get the return on their investment. People will leave anyway so why bother? This mindset is fatal. Making the job interesting by developing people’s talent will actually make them stay longer. It’s really about setting up a clear understanding from the beginning that your workplace alliances is built on the principles of give and take.
If you think of your employees as free agents, the natural response is to slash training budgets. Why train a competitor’s new hire? In an alliance, the manager can speak openly and honestly about the investment the company is willing to make in the employee and what it expects in return. The employee can speak openly and honestly about the type of growth he seeks (skills, experiences, and the like) and what he will invest in the company in return by way of effort and commitment. Both sides set clear expectations. (The Alliance, page 9).
That is the Slow Workplace at its best.
Gone are the days of lifetime employment at one company. The authors know this well and provide a useful guide for employers in an age in which knowledge is power and ample and free.
For some offline workplace wellness, I stumbled upon Real Happiness at Work by Sharon Salzberg. She offers helpful meditations and time-outs for the harried worker who may be teetering on the edge of burnout. You may not have the luxury of leaving your current work situation, she says, so here’s how you can make it more bearable. Of course, everything begins — and ends — from within. Her focus is about shifting your mind, heart and soul away from what’s not working to what is. Her meditative practices provide the parameters for a Slow Workplace too.
Whether you love, hate or could care less about your job, one thing is for certain: you spend a lot of time there. Wouldn’t it be nice if your job gave you more joy than pain?