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Future of work? Find your groove

I imagine I'm not alone in my fantasy of being a drummer... in the flow of sensing rhythm, creating rhythm, tapping into rhythm, or simply being the rhythm. Alas, like many of us, I don't have a natural aptitude for drumsticks. I look for rhythm, finding my groove, mostly in my work.

What's a groove? Merriam-Webster describes a groove as a situation suited to one's abilities and interests, an enjoyable experience or rhythm, a sense of harmony with one's world. Most people who find their groove, find it through work. Gallup authors reported in the book Five Elements of Well-being that career well-being (liking what you do at work) matters the most.

In positive psychology, Martin Seligman's PERMA model could be described in terms of grooving - we engage and expand our strengths in activities that bring higher meaning and enable achievement, thereby generating the positive emotions we get from grooving. Self-determination theory is another model of grooving - we have autonomy-supporting relationships, the social nutriments that enable our adventurous pursuit of interesting activities that make us feel ever-more competent through mastering new challenges.

Let's give thanks to grooving job crafting scientists, translating positive psychology and self-determination theory into everyday work. They have shown through 100+ studies that we groove when we get to shape our work so that:

  1. it's meaningful

  2. uses our strengths

  3. grows our competence

  4. generates nourishing relationships

  5. brings interesting opportunities, and

  6. supports our non-work well-being - mind, body, and life.

Labor Day 2022

If there was ever a moment to find our groove, to reinvent the experience of work, it's now.

Those at Gallup who groove in gathering and analyzing data have been telling us for a long while about the crisis of low work engagement (no rhythm, no groove - emotionally detached). The 2022 Gallup global workplace data shows that only 33% of workers in the US and Canada are engaged (the highest scores globally), dropping to 14% in Europe (the lowest scores).

The Washington Post noted:

More than two years of a pandemic have jolted the meaning of work and the way employees think about it. The consequences are just unfolding...

Millennials and Gen Zers are shifting ambitions from wanting to reach the top to having a meaningful effect on their communities, nation and the world.

Our jobs are not loving us back, notes a cited Elle article on women's new take on ambition.

This summer, McKinsey published an article on COVID 19 as a catalyst to cancel burnout cultures - workplaces that ask from workers more than they get back, throwing them out of their grooves.

“People aren’t just quitting their jobs, they’re rejecting the idea that burnout is the price they have to pay for success,” said Arianna Huffington...

Whatever accelerating work trend resonates most: the engagement crisis, the great resignation, quiet quitting, or the burnout epidemic, it all boils down to work ill-being, which drives our well-being downhill. More than that, work ill-being is a colossal, if not tragic, waste of human potential.

How might we groove at work on a large scale? Zooming out, we can see a shift coming in capitalism - a shift in the longstanding, implicit deal between capital and workers. Recent Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria wrote about it in HBR magazine this summer:

Today workers up and down the socioeconomic ladder are reexamining their commitment to employers and the fairness of the existing bargain between capital and labor.

Our deep questioning of capitalism is no surprise. If our work lives are a main driver of overall well-being, and work is failing to deliver what humans want dearly, than it is time for a new deal.

How about we ask "capitalism" (leaders, bosses, investors) for a new deal: growing wealth and growing well-being together. Instead of consuming well-being for work, we all make well-being a product of work.

We need to ask for more than corporate wellness - including physical well-being (eating, exercise, sleep, etc), and mental/emotional well-being (mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, balance, recharge, etc), along with fair financial compensation. We need to properly integrate our groove - crafting personally meaningful work, that uses our strengths, grows our competence, generates nourishing relationships, and brings interesting opportunities.

The future of work is good - more wealth and well-being, grooving together.

Coach Meg.

Find a coach. Find your groove:

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