Much of the work we do at PCC revolves around employee engagement. How do organizations engage their employees so they perform at their highest level and find gratification in their daily work? There are lots of ways, of course:
- Good communication from the top of the organization and particularly
from the direct supervisor.
- Helping employees develop and learn new skills.
- Pizza parties (food is always a great way to engage employees!).
- And the list goes on and on and . . .
When talking about employee engagement, the word 'motivation' eventually makes its way into the conversation. What motivates employees? Here again, the list is long and includes things like money, a caring boss, and perhaps the biggest motivator, the chance to do worthwhile work. Said differently, a great motivator is the chance to work for a company that makes a difference in the world or perhaps within the local community.
While all of these engagement and motivational activities are needed in the corporate world, these tend to be external influences. It’s up to the organization to bring in the pizza, train the manager to be effective, conduct the town hall meetings, and participate in clothing drives or raise money for the American Heart Association. Again, all great things.
But what about doing great work – period? Where is the internal motivation to do the best work you can do right where you are? In fact, where is the motivation to simply work hard?
When I was growing up in Oklahoma, I would do just about anything for a buck. I mowed my own lawn for an allowance and walked up and down the street looking for other laws to mow. During the winter, I traded the lawn mower in for a snow shovel, clearing driveways for a few dollars. As soon as I turned 16, I applied for my first job flipping fast food burgers and then switched to bagging groceries. I soon settled into a stockroom job at JCPenney and for years emptied trash, collected coat hangers, and moved boxes – lots of boxes!
Has that hard work ethic disappeared?
Granted, we don’t get much snow here in Dallas so not many people have a snow shovel. But I’ve never had a teen stop by my house asking to mow my lawn during the summer. And I often hear employers complain about a lack of work ethic among younger workers.
But hard work in and of itself is worthwhile work which leads to success and self-satisfaction. Thomas Edison knew this when he said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
Showing up day in and day out is just something I did. Yes, I enjoyed making money moving boxes at JCPenney. But I never enjoyed a pizza party and I wasn’t changing the world.
Maybe I’m just old but I do wonder if we’ve lost that ‘hard work’ ethic.
Have you seen it lately?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.