What needs to Happen for you to make a change?
The traditional corporate world that 30 – 50 year olds are familiar with is on its way out or has gone already in many cases. The institutionalised path we have trodden has changed, although it still has some way to go.
It’s no longer acceptable to be commuting 2+ hours a day to a job you spend at least 10 hours a day doing in an office, on the go between meetings, when you get home, after the kids have gone to bed, on a Saturday morning just so you can ‘catch up’. It may no longer be acceptable, but most are still working in that culture, regardless of the sector. It has become the norm and may even be expected of employees in many organisations.
In the last 10 years we have seen businesses become more and more focused on the bottom line and profit margins. Of course, the pressure keeps on raining down so exec boards and senior managers are being forced to focus on delivering higher and higher numbers at an ever increasing pace.
And what has been the cost? People. At every level of the traditional corporate hierarchy machine. The workforce is constantly being streamlined to achieve the ever-increasing profit targets and those left behind are being expected to do the work of 2 or more people. Managers are expected to be all things to all people and continue to do their ‘day job’ at peak performance. Execs are under constant pressure to do more with less and ensure the motivation and peak performance of the workforce. The entire workforce from bottom to top is less confident, less team oriented, less happy, less passionate, more disillusioned, more frustrated, more exhausted, more stressed.
Over time, an underlying blame and bullying culture emerges with an ‘every wo/man for her/himself’ attitude. People become more and more isolated and become fearful of speaking out about how they’re feeling and not coping. Many organisations now offer employee benefit programmes where there is often support therapies available, like counselling. But what if counselling isn’t the right support for you? And doesn’t it imply that the problem is with you and an inability to cope? That’s just treating the symptom and not the cause. Eventually, people start to leave either because they’re not prepared to put up with it anymore or they’re forced to due to ill health.
It’s not a sustainable model and so change has started to happen and it’s gaining momentum. The next ‘office’ generation is driving the agenda hard too (thank you Millenials!) and are not accepting traditional office space as a suitable or healthy environment to work in. Many organisations are stepping in the right direction with free fruit, break-out areas with table tennis or pool tables, canteens with healthy foods, gyms on site, added value offers, healthcare, flexible hours etc. Some even have sleep pods (encouraging you to work 24/7 perhaps?) But, this really isn’t anywhere near enough. It’s more treating the symptom and not the cause.
How many stories have you heard about people leaving their ‘safe’ corporate job behind and starting up for themselves? Or perhaps they’ve jacked it all in and gone travelling. Or, what about the ‘lucky’ people who took (often voluntarily) redundancy and started doing what they’ve always wanted to do and are now living the dream? All very viable options, if that’s the path they have chosen to take. But what if that isn’t for you? What if the corporate world is the only place where we can earn enough money to afford to live in the UK? I don’t believe so, not anymore. It’s just the trap of the institution that many of us find ourselves stuck in.
We do all have a choice though. It is often about a matter of mind set - what you think, leads to how you feel, leads to how you behave. So if you're thinking you're stuck on the hamster wheel that's exactly how you'll be feeling and your behaviour will mirror that. And so the cycle goes on. I speak with many of my clients about the 'financial trap' - you know the one - "I have to stay in this job to pay the mortgage, the bills, provide for my family." And then the excuses come - "it's not so bad, I do get quite a few perks" and so on. A year goes by and you're still stuck. Often, targets have increased, workload has increased, you're increasingly more exhausted, more stressed, unhappier.
What needs to happen for you to make a change?
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