I’m writing a book on work cultures, and, thankfully, closing in on its completion! As a part of my research for the book, I surveyed people on how they felt about their work roles and cultures. I was disappointed to find out that 70% of the respondents rated themselves as being “comfortable” in their role. It didn’t matter if they thought their culture was negative or positive, they were just “comfortable.” Not engaged, just “comfortable’. This closely mirrors Gallup’s monthly surveys on engagement that reports 66% of the US workforce are not engaged in their work. In April 2016, Gallup reported the highest engaged statistics ever in their history at a whopping 34%.
I struggle with this. The few times that I have only felt comfortable in my career, I made a change. Of course, it wasn’t always immediate, so there were maybe a few months each time where I felt that comfortableness before I realized it was time for me to make a change. This didn’t always equate to changing companies either – sometimes it was a new role, a new responsibility, but a few times it did mean a new company. I don’t settle for being comfortable in my career.
So, why are 70% of the workforce settling? I think it’s fear: of the unknown, of change, of disappointment, or hassle.
My maximizer strength keeps me from being settled in my career, as I’m always striving to bring out the best in myself and others. I admit, though, that I become comfortable in other areas of my life. I recently switched our family to a new optometrist. We had been very happy with our previous optometrist but were consistently frustrated with the front desk staff. I was complaining about them, yet I was comfortable with the doctor, the location, and settled for poor customer service. Changing seemed to be a hassle, so I put it off longer and longer. When I finally pushed myself to switch, I was able to schedule at the new office online, they texted me reminders, they worked on weekends, and I entered my insurance information online before I arrived. When I arrived for the appointment, I did a quick scan of my information, went directly into the exam room, the doctor was delightful, the staff was friendly and helpful, and I was in and out of there in less than half the time it took me at the former doctor’s office. I immediately referred their office to two of my friends; I was engaged!
So, what took me so long? It was the fear of hassle. My perception was that changing offices would create wasted time and energy on my part, so I delayed it. It turned out to be the opposite – I saved time and actually avoided the hassle of poor service. A good lesson and reminder to me that I don’t have to settle.
What are you settling for in your life? Is it your career? Your workplace culture? Or maybe your optometrist’s office? I suspect it won’t be difficult for you to think of something. I challenge you to pick something this week and make a change. It’s not about someone else changing or pointing fingers, but take control and make the change yourself. If it’s your career, a need to understand what you do best, your workplace culture, hiring, or other human resource services, reach out to Purple Ink to learn how we can help. Need a good optometrist referral? Give me a call!