Why Do People Work? (or, How Can You Get Your Employees to Be Happier & More Efficient?)
Behavioral psychologists have often considered just what it is that compels people to work — and do it well (or poorly, I suppose) — other than the obvious necessity of having income to pay for lodging, food, etc. In the restaurant business, where owners hire employees to run and work in their restaurants, knowing why people work and what makes people work harder or better, as opposed to just scraping by, can be the difference in a well-run vs. failing restaurant. Recent research provides some insight into the matter.
A recent book breaks it down into two categories: meaning in work and meaning at work. The first, meaning in work, “relates to how employees feel about specific tasks and job duties, and the satisfaction that comes from their daily requirements.” In other words, how your employees relate to the daily minutiae of their actual job. In the employee mindset, do certain tasks and responsibilities get treated differently, psychologically-speaking? How is it that workers find satisfaction and repetitive, occasionally mind-numbing work? Meaning at work, on the other hand, refers to an employee’s feelings about the company they work for, their superiors, and the mission and values of the people and the workplace. Is his or her place of work a pleasant, positive environment? Does it seem like the work they do matters? Are employees valued at every level?
Meaning at work is very important, especially when it comes to employee retention. (And since an employee’s feelings and attitudes regarding the values of the workplace can seep into his or her feelings about the actual work he or she is doing, it’s perhaps the more critical focal point for owners and managers; this is something you can impact — far more than how a waiter feels about the actual activity of waiting, for example.) Without a strong sense of meaning at work, most employees will stay only for a short period — loyalty will be low, and they’ll understandably move on in the future for the opportunity of better pay, promotion, or any number of other reasons. But just like in baseball, a loyal employee might end up making a small sacrifice here and there for the good of the company he or she feels loyal to.
There are a variety of ways to create workplace that promotes a sense of meaning, equality, loyalty, and strong values. On Friday, I’ll go through a few strategies employed successfully by other restaurants and cover how you too can foster a meaningful, efficient workplace with loyal employees and customers. Because we all know both are necessary for continued success in business.
Until then, leave a comment below or contact us here.