Work Isn’t Stressful; Adapting Is

By Michelle Malay Carter on October 28, 2007 

Leaving My Talent at HomeWork is a psychological imperative for humans.? If we are all wired to work, why can?t organizations find or retain talent?? Workers themselves say they leave organizations due to stress, according to a study by Watson Wyatt.

We are?boring our workers away!
Is work inherently stressful?? No, boring work is inherently stressful, and two categories of mismatches make for boring work.

1. Lack of interest in the type of work, e.g. I don?t like numbers or writing or physical work.? I call this a values mismatch.
2. And/or lack of challenge to the work, i.e. it doesn?t require me to apply myself fully.? This is a capability mismatch.

Work – the exercising of jugment and discretion to solve problems and achieve goals
My nine-year-old son received a Webkinz for his birthday.? It is essentially a small stuffed animal with a secret code which unlocks the internet world of Webkinz.? In this world, you adopt your pet and name it. You then spend KinzCash to create a lavish lifestyle for you pet ? custom designed rooms, clothes, furniture.? When your cash runs low, you earn more by competing in arcade games, trivia quizzes or other contests.? If all else fails, your pet can get a job.? (But will he find an engaging job?)

Left to his own devices, my son would work on this site, yes work, for hours.? He uses his judgment and discretion to solve problems and achieve goals.? He must make choices and decide trade offs based on his priorities.

I did not train him.? My son taught himself how to play and collaborates with school mates and friends to learn more.??I do not pay him.? I do not motivate him.? He is enjoying this work because he is interested in it and it challenges him.? No stress here!

What stresses employees is having to be something they are not.?
Asking employees to be engaged in work they find boring will cause stress.? Research shows that 20% of employees are in roles that do not fully challenge them.?? Add to that figure that 39% of employees report to a manager who cannot provide context for them.? This is what causes workplace stress, and why the world?s high potentials are leaving the corporate world to create their own interesting and challenging work.? It’s not that they don’t want to work; it is that they don’t want to work in the oppressive enviroment most organizations represent.

If we had systems in place to better match employees to roles and an understanding of what makes for a mutually beneficial manager-employee relationship, we would suddenly discover a lot of talent within our current organizations.? Employers are simply Looking for Talent in All the Wrong Places.

Filed Under Employee Engagement, Executive Leadership, High Potential, Managerial Leadership, Requisite Organization, Talent Management


One Response to “Work Isn’t Stressful; Adapting Is”

  1. david on November 6th, 2007 12:13 am

    The work must be very engaging and different each time to make it more exciting as a way to retain the workers. That could be a good way to not bored the employees.