Research Highlights How Our Work Environments Are Not Working For Us

My clients often speak about their experience in their jobs, the meaning of their professional work, relationships with supervisors and coworkers, and strategies to make their work more effective. It makes sense to focus on and explore feelings about our working world, even if it is not the reason for coming to counseling. After all, work takes up much of our time and focus, and it can be both a major stressor and a sense of accomplishment and creativity. 

This New York Times article from Schwartz and Porath details research and conclusions about the challenges of the current, American workforce and highlights four areas of needs for employees: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  The authors acknowledge the challenges that having better technology creates in that workers often feel a pressure to work and respond at all hours.  I appreciate that they note the pressure workers face post-recession and how this leads to over-extending and competitiveness for workers.

The article also outlines some strategies that workers and managers can take to promote better engagement, such as:

  • Working in 90-minute periods of time, followed by 10 to 15-minute breaks.  This includes limiting the duration of meetings to 90 minutes. Following this pattern, leads to more efficiency as well as better engagement from workers. 
  • Explicitly state expectations about responding to email and texts. This can lower the pressure to work after the workday ends.
  • We all have a need to be seen and validated, and this extends to the work world.  Supervisors and coworkers can increase satisfaction and engagement by acknowledging their colleagues' work and efforts.
  • Employees want to be connected to a mission and a larger purpose in their work.  I think that this can be connected to the mission of the organization.  In addition, I think workers can get a sense of accomplishment by using their talents and skills to connect to a larger purpose such as solving problems or helping others.