We’ve heard the saying, “You should work to live, not live to work.” Many people take this saying to heart and have the attitude that a job is just a job—a way to make a living, but that is all it amounts to. We shouldn’t let our job define our happiness. But there’s a flaw in this reasoning. As adults in the U.S., we spend over twenty percent of our year at our jobs: the average 25-54-year-old in American spends over 2000 hours each year working. The problem with saying “work to live” and it doesn’t matter if we enjoy our work is that we spend a large chunk of our time on this earth working. With this idea in mind, and since our time is precious, our job should provide some sense of fulfillment.
For argument’s sake, let’s take a look at two fictional companies that are offering identical retail job postings. Both companies are looking to hire a couple of new sales associates for the upcoming holiday season.
Company A views its employees as expendable. It does not invest time or money into properly training or preparing them for this unprecedented holiday season. Safety is not a high priority; the company has little concern for keeping its employees safe during the pandemic. Scheduling is done with little regard to the workers’ needs, without checking to make sure employees’ schedules align with their personal time constraints. Since these workers are seasonal, Company A is not interested in training or developing them. When associates quit they do not do exit interviews, because the company is not interested in why people leave, nor in whether it could have prevented their departure. In short, for Company A an employee is no more than a warm body filling a spot. Company A does not value its associates.
Now, let’s take a look at Company B. Company B is also looking for associates to help staff its stores for temporary seasonal work. Company B knows that some of these temporary hires can turn into a great pool of candidates for long term hires. Company B has been keeping up with the trends, and knows that while the stores may not be as busy due to COVID-19, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store) is seeing a significant increase, so it is vital to make sure its stores are well staffed and its workers well trained. Company B is investing both time and money to make sure that all new hires are properly onboarded and have the necessary training to be successful at their jobs. It takes the safety of associates very seriously, making sure everyone is provided proper PPE, and makes employees’ health a priority. Company B’s department managers regularly meet with associates when making schedules to try and accommodate individual needs, while making sure the floor is staffed. When an associate leaves Company B, they always perform an exit interview. Company B knows that valuable information can be learned about why a person chooses to depart a company, especially in an environment where unemployment is high. Company B values its associates and understands that its workforce is vital to its success.
At first glance, these two jobs are identical. They are both seasonal hire positions, they are both at retail stores that will be experiencing a holiday rush—but this is where the commonality ends. A job at Company B isn’t just a job, it is an opportunity, because a company that cares can make all of the difference in your work life. Looking at these two companies, most people would make the easy choice to work for Company B, because having an employer that truly invests in you can make a huge difference in your work-life quality. When you feel valued by your company, know that your work is appreciated, and feel that you are an asset to your employer, you almost certainly feel more satisfied with your job. You are also more likely to be engaged and committed to your company. Smart employers know that higher employee satisfaction and engagement leads to lower turnover. We definitely need to work to live, but how much better could that life be if we could find a company that cares for and values its people?