More than a job

Work Horizons

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2019 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2019 this involves 15 free events, workshops and training sessions taking place between 25th February and 26th March, along with thought leadership videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Sponsors – the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all events are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more here.

Whether we think about people’s performance at work from the employer’s perspective, or from the standpoint of the individual, the key factor is motivation. This is a wide-ranging topic, so to address one theme, we need employees to be in jobs which give them a sense of purpose, which have an underlying reason for going to work.

What is the likely output from a person travelling to work who believes he or she has something which is more than a job? What would be the contribution if this individual didn’t drag themselves out of bed but bounced out excitedly? Perhaps these are aspirations which will never be for everyone but why not try.

The fundamental requirement is that we all need to have thought about and worked out just what would give purpose and meaning tour life. So many of us are too busy, harassed or pre-occupied to take time to consider this. We have personal context of our responsibilities like mortgages, family, bank managers and maintaining relationships. Even if we did want to think through it, how many of us would know how to go about it?

There is a lot of research which has shown the vast majority of us, maybe even 80%, don’t enjoy our job. Not all of these people hate their role but exist in a benign state, in which they attend and do just enough. However, one person in eight would harm their employer if they thought they would get away with it!

The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us that UK productivity is lower than most countries in the Western World and demands we improve. He, rightly, lists various factors such as physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure and skills. Imagine the impact of a hike of 10% in employee motivation.

How would people behave if they considered their employment to be more than a job? How would people behave if they felt an affinity to the products or services of the organisation? How would people behave if they could actually influence decision making and believed they were listened to when expressing an opinion? How would people behave if they were making a difference to the broader society?

If each of us knew what would give purpose to our life, if we had organisations which recruited intelligently to marry role and person and if they led their people well, the world would be remarkably better than today. Not much to ask for really! It is time for every one of us to take responsibility for ourselves and our teams.

Rob Ball
Work Horizons