In the last 10 odd years I have worked in about 6 organizations. A few of my stints lasted about 6 months and the others lasted over a year and a half. The longest was when I was running my own company. During this period I was introduced to this concept called ’employee engagement’ where usually the HR team would organize a bunch of activities at work and try and get everyone to participate. I have read a number of articles on this and the most popular seems the Gallup survey. Coincidentally a few years ago I started to work with an organization that specialized in employee engagement. This lovely bunch of people would custom design programs for employees of large corporates / startups etc. They organized activities like chair yoga, bingo,cricket, online games,weight loss programs etc. These events usually had a high participation rate. At the end of the year the HR team would usually attribute something that we did to retention and general welfare of the employee. This helped the organization save a ton of money and time, since they did not have to go out and try and find new talent.
The current organization I am in now has started a employee engagement programs to boost the morale of the employees at the organization. Compared to most traditional organizations the average age of an employee here is about 24. The program started a couple of months ago and has visibility changed how people interact with the HR team. No longer is the conversation is about how something work related but conversation has switched to “Can we have beer during the next party or will the casino be setup again”. In my role as a silent observer over the past few years i have noticed that no longer are employees satisfied nearly with a paycheck.
For about 8 months now i have been feeling that maybe I need to do something different / something additional to what I am currently doing. I have been trying to understand where this is coming from and surprisingly shark tank gave me the answer. Like every entrepreneur when I ran my startup (for lack of a better word) I had put in about 90 hours a week atleast. There would be customer calls at 1 am, situations with vendors that needed handling late nights and deliveries at 5 am. The constant threat about not being able to complete contracts due to financial constraints or not being able to pay vendors on time usually kept me up at night. Looking back I loved every moment of it. Every day was unique, even though tasks were repetitive it kept me motivated and going. Now at work, after doing the same thing for about 2 years, I find myself looking for other things to do. I believe that the reason I wake up and come to work each day is so that I can learn something new. Something hopefully that changes my life even by a tiny inch for the better.
In the last year or so every time i have gotten something new to do there seems to be a purpose in going to work. The ability to sit down and figure out how to roll something out across multiple locations is extremely interesting. The moment I have done the same task a few times i lose interest in it. Some employees stay motivated through the routine tasks they do, some employees stay motivated through the employee engagement activities, some stay put due to compensation and benefits they receive and some like me are able to stay motivated only by learning something every day. The difference between an employee and a founder is “a founder will take a leap of faith and give the entrepreneur he just hired a bunch of things to do even though the entrepreneur has never done them but if your reporting manager hasn’t been one then you can count on resistance and lots of convincing on your part to take that leap”. The ability to handle failure and continuing ahead is a skill set. It doesn’t come naturally. It does hurt but that shall pass.
Diwali Parties, Hola hoop competitions, Table tennis tournaments, a flashy gym, a shower at work is not what we want. Neither do we want a raise every month. What we truly want is that ability to work on something new and trying and figuring out exactly how to do it or learning how to do something new and knowing fully well that we may never need that skill. I guess what i am trying to say is the big thing i miss being an entrepreneur is the RUSH i got when a task (small,medium or big) which required me to put in time and talk to people, understand, figure out and finally managed to get done. Yes i do sleep a little knowing that someone else has to worry about how they will ensure that everyone’s salary is paid on time but i do have some sleepless lights feeling like i should do more.
Screw instant gratification the Rush at the end of each project that is done well is far better.