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Overcoming an unfulfilling workplace

How you can take responsibility for your own happiness at work.

An unhappy work-life is often a result of  a sense of unfullfilment.

There are many challenges in the workplace and a quick search online reveals many articles/how-tos addressing the issue of a toxic workplace environment. Suggested solutions include “planning your day” or taking part in training days or ongoing CPD (continuous professional development) to better engage you within your role.

But one of the major issues, which is often overlooked, is the workload and “work-type” placed on employees.

Nothing affects a business and the lives of everyone involved more than a sense of unfulfillment. No matter how hard you try, you probably feel as though there is always more that needs to be done, with little thanks or reward. It’s just the way it is and the way it will always be.

A lot of the problem stems from businesses not implementing intelligent and well-thought-out procedures and systems. In every business, Pareto’s Principle (also known as the 80:20 rule) will apply, with approximately 80% of the business’s productivity being driven by just 20% of the effort invested.

Conversely, a huge 80% of the effort results in just 20% reward!

It stands to reason that a happy workplace is one with a sense of fulfilment at the end of the working day. A place where you can look back at the day’s efforts and feel proud of the results.

Although it may be a positive sign that many businesses are looking into increasing their systemisation, it still leaves many areas of the business with processes in place simply because “that is the way it has always been done”.

As you may well know, the problem is further magnified when decisions around bringing in new (or updating old) processes remain in the hands of the senior management team. A team that is often disconnected with the realities of doing the actual job at hand.

Systemising satisfaction

Just a few benefits of systemisation, for both an employee looking at a specific role and for the employer looking at the business as a whole, include:

· A clear definition of what is expected from each person in the business.

Clear systems don’t leave things to chance, they clearly define the next appropriate actions based on a triggering event.

· Job satisfaction and fulfilment.

Often, the confusion created by a lack of a clear procedure or system may leave you wondering if what you have done has, at best, been worthwhile or, at worst, something that you can be punished for.

· An increase in creativity.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but clear boundaries will actually increase creativity. When people don’t know what the boundaries are, their creativity in a particular situation is often curtailed to ensure they don’t overstep. Whilst clear boundaries of a procedure can invigorate creative thinking.

A fringe (but huge) benefit is what helped McDonald’s take over the fast food world. By clearly documenting out procedures, the product sold is always consistent, as it is always made in exactly the same way with exactly the same ingredients. The procedural documentation that makes that happen also means the onboarding and training of new staff are made as efficient as possible – whilst removing the dependency of the business on the “one person that always does that”, allowing other members of staff to cover the role when required.

The benefits are undisputed but, when it’s so easy to get it wrong, how can you help to ensure the best systems and procedures are put in place to help you and the business as a whole?

You need to take responsibility

As an employee, you should take responsibility – ask your line manager if it‘s okay to make suggestions on how your role may be better carried out based on your everyday experiences.

Document your suggestions in detail, including any positive and negative effects the suggestion may have, as you see them, and present the case for your suggestion in a thorough and well-thought-out way.

Be accepting that not all of your suggestions may be implemented, but always ask for the explanation as to why not. That way, you can better understand the needs of the business and create better suggestions moving forward.

At the very least, your suggestions will make you stand out as someone who is keen to improve the business, someone who is ready for more responsibility and someone who should be valued as a part of the team.

Without a doubt, this will help to give you that sense of fulfilment that you may have been missing.

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