“The way we’re working isn’t working,” say Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath in a New York Times article, “Why You Hate Work.” Middle managers, as well as top-level executives reported:
- They don’t feel appreciated.
- They find it difficult to accomplish the most important work amid distractions.
- They don’t feel like their work makes much of difference.
And, they say workplace demands are increasing.
- Time demands are exceeding our capacity.
- A leaner workforce increases insecurity and competitiveness for jobs.
- Digital technology floods our already busy lives with must read requests and information.
The result: an increasingly disengaged, less productive workforce. A comment to the article summed up the frustration:
“I work 9-5 and not a minute more. After being laid off four times, I refuse to give any corporation a minute more than I have to.”
Schwartz and Porath suggest that employers can vastly improve satisfaction and productivity by meeting four core needs.
- Physical: Employees have opportunities to renew and recharge at work.
- Emotional: Employees feel valued and appreciated for their contribution not disposable commodities.
- Mental: Employees have opportunity to focus on their most important tasks.
- Spiritual: Employees do what they are gifted to do and connect work to a higher purpose.
As followers of Christ, we know that work never need be the “soulless disappointment” it is to so many. As Christian workers we bring meaning to our work, whether our employers help us connect to a higher purpose or not. We’re ultimately serving Christ, not just a company. When we do our best work and are still undervalued, we can know that God values work that is done to bring glory to Him.
Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn't cover up bad work. (Colossians 3:22-25, MSG)
If people work for us, we owe it to them—and God—to create an atmosphere that energizes rather than depletes, values rather than uses, empowers rather than overwhelms, and gives people a vision for the higher purpose of their work beyond a mundane task.
And masters, treat your servants considerately. Be fair with them. Don't forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master—God in heaven. (Colossians 4:11)
Schwartz offers six ways leaders can create a workplace where people flourish.