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Positive Work Culture: Why Having Challenges at Work Matters

April 20, 2016

Some days, you walk into the office, and you're excited for the day ahead. You might be tackling an exciting project, or learning a new skill. Other days the prospect of going to work is less than appealing. Maybe you have a seemingly endless number of emails to respond to, or you feel bored by the tasks you're working on. If this is the case, you're not alone. In fact, a 2011 Gallup study found that 71 percent of U.S. workers felt disengaged from their jobs.

This isn't just a case of the summer interns dreaming of a day out with friends instead of working on that research project. In fact, the people most likely to feel disengaged at work in the Gallup study were highly educated and middle-aged workers. When boredom sets in, though, productivity and innovation go out the door.

Why Employees Want Challenges
To address the problem of office boredom, it's important to understand its cause. Employees who aren't engaged with their work often cite the following reasons:

  • Repetitiveness of tasks
  • Lack of decision-making power
  • Limited feedback and positive recognition

People who get bored at work typically have enough work to do, but often don't have work that they feel challenges them.

Why do challenges matter? They get people out of their normal routines and give them a chance to expand their capabilities. They also:

  1. Give employees the chance to grow their skills.
  2. Allow employees to demonstrate their value to the organization by making a meaningful contribution.
  3. Offer a chance to connect with co-workers for the first time or in a new way.
  4. Increase job satisfaction.
  5. Offer employees a sense of autonomy.

How Management Can Help

Some employees will speak up if they're bored and offer to take on a new project. More than likely, though, the onus is on management to curb workplace complacency and engage employees. Here are a few ideas for motivating employees:

  1. Check in with employees regularly to see how they're feeling about their work and ask what would help them feel more engaged and happier.
  2. Regularly review an employee's role and responsibilities to see how they've changed and assess whether employees are still the right fit for their positions.
  3. Identify employee potential and vocalize it. More often than not, people rise to expectations set forth for them.
  4. Help people accept failure. Most people shy away from workplace challenges because they are afraid to fail. However, if you re-frame failure as a natural part of the process and an opportunity for growth, employees are more likely to take a risk.
  5. Praise the effort, not the talent. When you laud strategy (instead of say, brains), the message you're sending is that hard work and strong effort are valued and appreciated.

Many workplace experts agree that a sense of autonomy, a sense of purpose and the ability to use and improve one's skills are the three pillars of job satisfaction. Workplace challenges address all three. They can also spark innovation as employees look at their jobs and companies in a new way.

When people feel happy at work, their work is better. Productive and engaged employees lift and inspire others to do the same. The result: a company culture that takes pride in its work and delivers better results.

At Pacific Office Automation, we've been providing document management solutions for 40 years. We consistently win awards for our customer service, but that doesn't mean we're going to rest on our laurels. We know how important it is to grow and evolve so we can continue to push the envelope and serve as one of the most trusted dealerships in the country. We challenge ourselves to offer the best service to our customers, which means working as partners to find solutions that fit every company's unique needs. Interested in joining a challenging workplace? Check out our career opportunities.

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