There is an ongoing discussions about how to keep young people in employment; how to keep them motivated at work, how to keep them coming back. All reasonable questions and all questions we could probably ask of anyone at any point in their life. The Sydney Morning Herald Sept 18-19 2010 ran an article ‘Love your work? A packed lunch might do the trick.’ And in it you will read that yoga, tai chi, brain gym, boxing and all sorts of things are being introduced into the workplace to make it more interesting and to keep people there. This also seems like a good idea. I’d be happy to do a spot of boxing, tai chi and yoga before my lunchtime sandwich. In the article Tony Wilson (executive coach) says that happiness and wellbeing are about seeing tasks either as threats or as rewards; that is, either something that will benefit us or something that will be a threat to us. The former is good, the latter not so good. Tony also has this to say:
‘When people feel that we have autonomy, have a say in what we’re doing, as well as a certain level of status and belonging, we’re going to perform at peak capacity.’
And this all makes sense. The resilience stuff about being in charge of yourself pops up in this as does that key ingredient a sense of belonging.
John Shields Sydney Uni Faculty of Economics and Business also has something to say and I get the impression that John tends to think that we can overtheatricalise (my word not his) this whole process. He says:
‘If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.’
He says we need to ask:
- Do you have discretion in what you do
- Do you have a variety of tasks?
- How closely do you work with those around you?
And the answers to these questions will give us a good idea about just how happy that person is at work. I think there is something in this for when we are thinking about how to keep young people at work, and possibly even the not-so-young.