Over the course of my 8 year career, I have sometimes thought about quitting my job in search for a better one (this usually happens when I’m super stressed or super bored). I found myself thinking about finding new work this past summer and asked myself, “What would be my ideal workplace to work in?”
A few weeks ago I had lunch with two of my engineer friends, and I asked them the same question. One friend was a realist, and it took some encouraging and prodding to get him to think about the possibility of an ideal workplace (which he thought to be unrealistic and an impossibility), but he finally gave in and started dreaming with us.
One of them talked about people being the most important part of a workplace. He wanted to work with people he respected and were friends with, which would add social value to his life. He continued by talking about opportunities to travel, to be involved in a variety of work, to learn, and to interact with all stakeholders. He would love to do work that directly improved the life of other people, work that helped others grow and learn. The other engineer talked about having interest in the work, and being able to provide for himself and his future family.
For myself, my ideal workplace would include 5 things.
1) I am able to do excellent work. I want to use my strengths in my work, to offer my skills and abilities to the organization that employs me. I want to do work that I am passionate about, which will motivate me to do my job better. I want to work with a team of people where my strengths complement them, and their strengths complement me. I want to work at my absolute best.
2) My work has a greater impact on the world. I want my work to make a meaningful and significant impact. I want to believe in the mission of my company, and know that it is making a difference in making the world a better place. I want to know that my company genuinely cares for its customers, suppliers, the environment, and the community it is a part of, and makes efforts in serving them.
3) My work provides for my family. It is important that my work provides me with enough to support my family. I don’t need to be rich, but I also don’t want to be stressed to make ends meet. This includes my income, but also my health plan, wellness or family days to allow me to take care of my family when they are sick, and vacation time that allows me to spend quality time creating memories with my family. I also hope my workplace will be an extended community for my family, where my wife and children can engage with my colleagues and benefit from that interaction. For example, if I had a daughter that was interested in learning about design work, that she could work with the marketing team of my company for a summer and learn things that I could not teach her.
4) There are meaningful relationships in my workplace. I want to build quality friendships in my workplace, people that I respect and trust. People that I can have fun with. I want my workplace to be a community that is supportive, a team that works well together. I want my company to have positive relationships with its customers and suppliers.
5) My work gives me opportunity to grow personally. I want my workplace to be a place I can grow in maturity. That it would be a community helps me discover my strengths and passions and gives me opportunities to develop them. I want to work with people that can mentor and coach me to grow, and I want the chance to mentor and coach others as well. My ideal workplace would provide me opportunities to take classes and education. And I want to be given work that is challenging and stretches me, leading to growth.
Am I asking for too much? Maybe. But no matter where I am working, I want to be a part of the solution, and help change the culture of the organization so that it becomes closer and closer to everyone’s ideal workplace. Not only would it make the employees happier and more satisfied, but I believe that there would be greater staff engagement and improved work effectiveness and efficiency.
What would your ideal workplace look like?