It always strikes me as peculiar that Labor Day is the one day that most people don’t work. To celebrate “labor” by taking a day off seems contradictory; but it does afford an opportunity to relax and gain perspective on some things, not the least of which is, well, labor.
I like to work. It must be the Midwest and Protestant work ethic with which I was raised. I sometimes question my choice of career, but I must admit that I have always enjoyed the actual work.
In a Fortune 500 marketing and communications environment, the work varies depending on your specialty. As the concept of brand becomes better understood, chief marketing officers increasingly wield all the power a hefty budget affords. If there is a chief communications officer, that individual usually focuses on investors and on the media. It’s often a role that goes unnoticed until disaster strikes. A good crisis is the stuff of which legendary communications officers are made. Most often, however, it’s a thankless job: No one counts the crises averted through deft handling of sticky situations.
Two people can have the same job responsibilities, yet one will find the role agonizingly odious while the other finds it a pleasure. How can that be?
While I’ve worked in these various disciplines, my heart has always been in employee communications. It’s generally not the “money” job or the “prestige” job, but it is a role where you can make a difference to a lot of people, and that’s why I find it rewarding.
Each of us has 24 hours a day to fill. For most of us, on most days, at least eight of those hours are spent at work. If you are unlucky enough to have a job you dislike, you know just how long those eight hours can be. On the other hand, when you’re doing work that you love – work that you find meaningful and fulfilling – eight hours often doesn’t seem enough. Your work has become a vocation, a calling.
Two people can have the same job responsibilities, yet one will find the role agonizingly odious while the other finds it a pleasure. How can that be? Perhaps it’s because how you feel about the work you’re doing directly correlates with job satisfaction despite what the actual work might be. And that’s where employee communications comes in.
In many companies – especially in big companies – there is a great divide between senior management and everyone else. Whether they are rank-and-file employees, knowledge workers, service personnel or manual laborers, the other 99 percent doesn’t see the company in the same way the senior management team sees it. Why senior execs make the choices they make may be obvious to them, but often it’s a mystery to others.
Building a bridge across that great divide is the work of the employee communications team. We get to explain the vision, show how the individual can contribute to that vision and then celebrate the successes. We get to help make people feel good about the work they do.
In “What Makes Work Worth Doing?” (HBR Blog Network), authors Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer describe how their research found that while it’s easy for knowledge workers – highly educated people involved in creative work and complex problem solving – to find job satisfaction, even those in service industries or those doing manual labor can do so when they feel they are making a contribution to someone or something that they value. Employee communicators have the opportunity to help make that connection. That’s a contribution that I’m happy to say is all in a good day’s work.