Q: You must know some simple rules to look for when finding a new job. I talk to friends who love their work and their office mates. I don’t have that now. Instead, I have someone next to me who tries to change my political opinions, another who never washes his hands and someone near me who thinks we all want to hear about her recent dates. I try to avoid all of them but we are packed in like sardines.
A: Oh no! This doesn’t sound like a positive work environment for you. Based upon my own very UNscientific observations, here is what I think are some of the motivators of a positive workplace.
1. A connection to the work. Most satisfied employees I talk with have some connection to their work. They love what they do or they love MOST of what they do. Sales people might love closing the deal. Interior designers might love finding the right fabric for a project. A kindergarten teacher might love hearing a child read their first word.
2. A connection to the client, the end user, the patient, the student, the community or the guest. Often times, I hear from employees that they love the population with whom they work. They love their customers, their most challenging patients or the kids in their classroom. Enthusiastic employees will often feel energized and refreshed after they have shared a successful moment (or moments!) with that customer!
3. A connection to colleagues! It sounds like that might be missing for you. Employees don’t have to be best friends. However, it makes it more pleasant if you enjoy the folks that work in the cube one over from you. A common interest (e.g., the love of Tom Brady or skiing) can link people together. Or you might have two people share a bond because they take the same train into the office. I have one client that has started a growing contest in the hopes of improving the connection between office mates. The employees are voting on what to grow (e.g., tomatoes, sunflowers, daisies, etc.) and then they all try to grow, from seed, these plants. Every two weeks, the CFO will be measuring and recording the results! In June, they plan to announce a winner! Even those without a green thumb are interested in the contest! I can’t change your current co-worker situation unfortunately. However, if you look at new opportunities, take a tour. Ask employees what they like and dislike about the company. You will hear a lot!