Listen to some, especially on social media on Mondays, and you might think the average American hates his job and his (or her) life. And given two recent metrics, there might be an explanation: overall, U.S. employers slowed their hiring over the month of August and the slowed raises in salaries as well. Less help and less money? Yes, those might be two reasons for frustration…but workers aren’t really that frustrated.
According to multiple surveys across various industries, Americans are actually more optimistic about their jobs and their future than they have been in years. More than a momentary blip, this appears to be a trend that, if it continues, could boost spending and re-energize a sagging economy struggling to pull itself out of a recession.
It’s possible most workers are still glowing over the numbers from early and mid summer. While American companies added only 151,000 jobs in August, they did nearly double that in July and June, keeping the unemployment rate under 5 percent for three straight months.
Economic growth is important to a rosier employee outlook. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Be a carrier of optimism and positive thinking. Give your employees reasons to express their good feelings and embrace opportunities.
This operation will look and feel different at every different business, and you, as a manager, are in the best position to understand those differences and take advantage of them. Do your employees respond to incentives or to contests? Are they all about open communication or do they just want to get their jobs done? What’s the mood and the best way to elevate it?
The answers to these questions will be unique to your business. Taking the opportunity to raise the overall morale in your office is your job. It’s possible you’re in an industry that hasn’t felt the benefits of the rising tide as yet. Your team may still feel stifled and underpaid. That’s a tough situation, but there are still ways to help them have a better outlook and get more done … and it goes well beyond telling them it’s better than being unemployed.
That sort of doom and gloom approach might “work” but it’s not effective long-term. Especially as the economy improves and more jobs are available. As a manager, your goal should not be to keep people working, it should be to increase productivity, creativity, and efficiency. The best way to make that happen is to help your team members find fulfillment and enjoyment in their work. Sometimes that means a more hands-on approach. Sometimes that means just getting out of their way and letting them work.
Knowing and applying the approach that works best in your situation is your job to learn.