(This is the 6th post in our 2018 "Celebrating Work" series. Each week we're highlighting a different theme about work and asking YOU to help contribute. Join in and let us know your perspective on work!)
Last week, during the Jobs for Life class we’ve been hosting over the summer in downtown Raleigh, one of the students was sharing about her dream job. “I just want to work in a place where I feel respected, valued, and heard. Of course, I’d like to get paid well too, but these other things are MUCH more important to me!”
She’s not alone. A recent global survey of over 200,000 people found that what makes employees happiest is not just the pay (actually, good compensation is only #9 on the list). At the top? Being appreciated for your work, good relationships with co-workers, and a good work-life balance. In other words, the main thing people are looking for in a job is a healthy work environment.
This makes sense; if you don’t feel valued in your workplace, don’t feel like your voice is heard, don’t have anyone to talk to in your office, or are overworked and have no time for friends or family, you’ll begin to dislike your job—which can quickly turn into disengagement (which basically means just doing the bare minimum to get the job done). And as we’ve recently shared in our “Celebrating Work” series, disengagement at work can lead to deteriorating physical and mental health. A recent Gallup poll found that disengaged employees are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression, have higher stress levels, and are at greater risk for heart disease.
So it isn’t enough to just have a job, we need a GOOD job—and a major determining factor of a good job is a healthy work environment.
Don’t get me wrong—having a good job also means receiving at least a living wage for your work, as we discussed a few weeks ago when we shared about "The Value of Meaningful Work." But pay is only a part of the healthy workplace equation. So what exactly do people value most in their work environment? The Harvard Business Review found that people are very clear on what they want at work — and they fundamentally want the same three things: a career, a community, and a cause.
We want a job with opportunities for growth, one that allows us to use our gifts and strengths. It’s important that our employer offers professional development and encourages our continued education. We want to feel encouraged to innovate, and to know that we’re growing as the company grows.
We want to feel respected, cared for, and recognized by others. We want honest and open communication, and to know that our voice matters. We want to know that others have our back, and that we have co-workers who will listen to us. One third of our lives will be spent at work—that’s 90,000 hours over the course of a lifetime! With that much time around our co-workers, it’s vital that we’re able to view our workplace as a community and a family.
We want to identify with our company’s mission and core values, and to believe that we’re making a meaningful impact in the world. This can help set the tone for the company's culture, so it's important that the organization’s and the employees’ values align. When this happens, there’s common purpose and understanding amongst co-workers, helping to build better working relationships and community (as we discussed in the point above).
A healthy work environment is just as valuable to the employer as it is for the employer. When companies invest in keeping their employees healthy, happy, and motivated, their productivity soars. Research has shown that healthier and more engaged employees at a company are almost 3 times more productive. It makes sense then for business owners to be investing more time and resources in improving their workplace environment and company culture—not only will their employees be more productive, employee retention rates will also increase and there’s a higher probability for a boost in sales and customer loyalty.
In Proverbs 27:23, King Solomon reminds us to “know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” It’s obviously good business practice to create a healthy work environment, but as followers of Christ, we also believe that creating a good workplace environment is what we’re called to do.
David H. Kim, executive director of the Center for Faith and Work (CFW) and the pastor of faith and work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, says that creating a healthy work environment “is not about meeting the minimum standards, but about creating human flourishing for people to live out their calling as divine image-bearers in the world.”
We believe work is a gift from God. Through work, we are able to not only take care of ourselves, but also take care of others—God’s creation. As we seek to help prepare men and women for meaningful work, let’s also strive to create workplaces that will allow people to flourish and live out their God-given gifts and talents.
We want to hear from you! What do you value most in your workplace? What does your ideal work environment look like?
"Humanizing The Workplace" (Institute for Faith Work & Economics)
"How We Can Foster Human Flourishing at Work" (The Center for Faith & Work)
"8 Factors of a Flourishing Workplace" (Best Christian Workplaces Institute)