Life is obviously about more than just work. However, work does make up a significant part of our time on the planet, with many people still working 40 hours per week or more.
When you put work alongside other life priorities, it can seem fairly insignificant. When you or someone close to you has a major illness or accident, work quite rightly takes a back seat. After all, it’s only work and it will still be there tomorrow.
When you’re about to have a baby or you’re saying farewell to an old relative at a funeral, work can wait. It’s only work, after all.
What’s the Big Deal About Work?
Work actually plays a big part in people’s lives.
The reason everybody thinks about first is the financial aspect. However, work also gives people purpose and meaning, and satisfies an innate drive to learn and grow.
In fact, a recent US study found that on average, workers would be willing to forego 23% of their future lifetime earnings to have a job that was always meaningful. In other words, people are willing to take less money, for more purposeful work.
Another study on the influence of technology found that remote workers are more likely to quit due to loneliness and disengagement, pointing to another good reason for working – social connectivity.
We meet a lot of people at work, and develop workplace friendships which help us enjoy work more and improve our resilience.
For these reasons, “It’s only work” doesn’t really give our workplace the credit it deserves.
The Problem With “It’s Only Work” For Your Team
It’s true – work isn’t as important as the health of your family and friends.
However, for every team member who is focused on other priorities like their family or health, there are a hundred other people who are still working.
When somebody says to me “It’s only work”, I see a huge red flag.
In my mind, “It’s only work” can lead to complacency, a lack of desire to improve your team and workplace, as well as avoiding the big issues.
Yes, “it’s only work”, but bad work can cause significant problems.
When Kelly needs to work late every night and never sees her partner at home, her family life suffers.
John is bullied at work. His anxiety and feelings of helplessness cause him to go home and drink a bottle of wine. Normally, he would go to the gym.
Tahlia doesn’t have anyone to talk to at work and spends most of her day in spreadsheets. She feels even lonelier when she goes home to her empty apartment.
Josh is bored all day and goes home without a feeling of accomplishment or purpose. He feels depressed. Mental health can be a big issue… who knows where that might lead?
The Role of Leadership
The role of leaders is to help people navigate and enjoy the workplace as much as they can.
This includes improving motivation and instilling a sense of purpose and achievement in their people.
It includes safeguarding the wellbeing of their team members and helping them work together. And helping people grow by giving them a push when they need to work just that bit harder to achieve their goals.
Lastly, leadership needs to remove significant barriers that stop people from thriving and being productive in the workplace.
When leaders do all this, they improve productivity, engagement and motivation in their teams. This leads to better organisations, which have a fighting chance to succeed in their industry.
Sure, it’s only work, but don’t lose sight of all the value that good work brings, for you and your team.
Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts on the role of leadership when it comes to work? Is work important or just for the money? Leave a comment below!