Our company works with organizations every day to help them to become more engaging to their employees.  Some employers do more than others to keep a job challenging and engaging, which comes up a lot when I talk to people who aren't happy with their job.  They tell me all of the things their employer does wrong and that if the organization would just start doing X or stop doing Y, things would be so much better.

I get it, but I have to ask a simple question:  If someone is disengaged in their job, why do they still work there?

There are lots of excuses for staying in a job while being disengaged. "I need the paycheck."  "I can't find something better."  "There are worse companies out there."  "I have saved up three weeks of vacation."  "I get my enjoyment out of other things in life other than work."

All of these are fine and acceptable choices, but when I hear them, it tells me that someone is not empowered.

The definition of empowerment is the realization that you have some level of control over your own life.  There are circumstances that you can control and others that you cannot.  Where you work happens to be something well within your control, unless you do not think it is.

Nobody can take away your empowerment, but you can certainly give it away.  I recently talked to an executive who hated his job, but said he would be stupid to leave because he makes so much money.  Then he went on to tell me all the things his company needs to do differently and why 'they' are screwing things up.

I asked him what HE would do differently and he looked confused.  Didn't I understand?  We aren't talking about him.  He is trapped within a terrible company and THEY needed to change. 

The truth is that he could leave at anytime, but he is ultimately choosing to put his salary ahead of his own happiness.  If that wasn't bad enough for him, he is also choosing to blame his employer for his unhappiness, which will only lead to more frustration. 

It sounds like I think terribly of these disengaged employees, but I do not. The reality is that I have also been that person at one point in my life, too.  We all make choices in our lives and our ultimate success does not depend on the outcomes of these choices as much as our willingness take responsibility for them. 

You have a choice.  If you hate your job, try doing it better.  Try engaging your boss.  Try engaging your coworkers.  If that doesn't work, it might be time to find another job and find engagement somewhere else.

Categories: Culture

Join thousands of other motivated leaders reading our weekly business insights.