Boost your happiness and success by increasing the sense of community.
Have you ever completed a job satisfaction survey? Yeah… me neither, at least not seriously. What is job satisfaction anyway? I’m satisfied that I have a job. They let me keep coming and give me money in return. I think I’m satisfied with that! Seriously though, we can define job satisfaction as the degree to which an employee is satisfied with their job. Among other things, this relates to understanding your role in the company, having resources to do your job, performance recognition, being aligned with the company’s purpose, having meaningful relationships, work development, and of course compensation.
Most American’s are not happy at work. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, job satisfaction statistics show that only 33% of US employees are engaged at work. This compares to 70% engagement at the world's best organizations. If 33% are engaged then 67% are not engaged or actively disengaged. Some aspects of engagement circle around teamwork such as confidence in your coworkers and having friends. Only 3 in 10 US employees strongly agree that their associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work. Additionally, only 2 in 10 strongly agree that they have a best friend at work. The research shows that this is positively related to your job satisfaction.
Your sense of community heavily contributes to your overall happiness!
Your job satisfaction and more importantly your work happiness will elevate with a stronger sense of community. Community? Isn’t that where I live? No, the sociology definition of community discusses individuals in a group who interact with each other, organized by geographical area, work, activities, beliefs, values, or behaviors. In other words your community is the group who are around you, really for any reason at all. This means your family, your neighborhood, your coworkers, your online gaming buddies, etc. Your sense of community heavily contributes to your overall happiness!
This idea came to me while I was working on a blog post about workplace burnout. I addressed a point on supporting your co-workers and boss when you have extra time or extra energy. In other words maintaining a sense of community. This does not mean sacrificing your own work or poorly positioning yourself in the workplace. But this does mean caring about your work assignments AND caring about the overall productivity of the office, store, or plant. It may also mean that you care about the people working in the office or store with you who are fighting the same battles.
The sense of community is built on trust and built on doing what's right.
While I was brainstorming about my article on burnout, a friend of mine posted to social media that a family member had significant housing problems and needed inexpensive items and inexpensive labor to improve their state of living. In response to his post, I tagged 3 people who I knew were deeply rooted in supporting the community but also worked in real estate and home building. Honestly those three individuals do not know me well personally and, I do not know them well. I do know their work. Based on the energy and the images they send out into the world, I also know their value system. My friend who originally made this post thanked me, and that was the end. Honestly I have no idea if he solved the problem or how it has been handled. When I tagged these three individuals it was my attempt at generating some community. Though to be truthful, I hadn't done official business with these people nor had I done them any favors in the past. I believe the sense of community is built on trust and built on doing what's right.
Whether at work or at home it's important to try to solve problems. There are times when you have the ability within yourself to fix an issue. You may have the money, the time, the energy, the knowledge, or the experience to handle it yourself. There may be other times, when you're lacking any one or a few of those qualities leaving you unable to achieve your goal. That's when resources come in handy. If knowledge is the barrier, maybe you need to find an internet source or book or magazine to instruct you. If time is the barrier and maybe you'll have to put off the problem to someone else or pass it to a colleague. If you find yourself overwhelmed or out of your comfort zone, you must pass on the project to another individual or team of individuals. That is exactly what I did that day.
The sense of community is aided by the cycle of favors and repeat business. I don't know how these three individuals would have helped specifically, but I know that those are people who have knowledge that could point my friend in the right direction. Because they do real estate and construction work they may have furniture or building materials laying around. At the very least they probably know other professionals who have the time, money, and know-how. As I thought further about this sense of community, I realized this is how I live my life. I work as hard as I can to solve a problem and if I can't do it myself I will contract out or I enlist help from someone who can.
The livelihood, sanity, and longevity of my loved ones central to my life.
I want my friends and family to understand that I support them. I go out of my way to do business with the people I know often paying more than required. When trouble arises, I help as best I can. The livelihood, sanity, and longevity of my loved ones central to my life. So, I help when needed. As a career student moving around so often, It has been difficult maintaining close relationships but my people know I will step up when called. All of this contributes to our sense of community.
Be prepared, sometimes your coworker will need you.
Again this all applies to work AND at home. It's easy to send a quick message or simply walk by a colleagues workspace to ask if she needs anything or if you can help with anything. These simple check-ins are enough to communicate that you care. Be prepared, sometimes your coworker will need you. They will give you a bit of extra work. Take that. Bless them with your mind, money, and manpower. Trust that when you are struggling, at least one of these people will come to your aid as well.
In my humble opinion this is one of the major factors missing from society at-large. We no longer view our neighborhoods and workplaces as our community. It has always been difficult to generate a sense of community however the rise of the internet has made it nearly impossible and seemingly useless. How often do you talk with your neighbors? Do you at least say good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, waving as you drive or walk by? have you ever offer to lend a helping hand when your neighbor's lifting something heavy? In this age when racism, politics, and public acts of violence are the norm we have to start breaking away. We do this by shaking hands, reaching out, and supporting the people.
We forget so easily that everyone in this world is fighting a battle. Each person strives to exist in their own way. Some of our battles are physical such as in those who have physical disabilities, morbid obesity, chronic disease. Others are fighting mental battles such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia but also as subtle as personality disorders, anxiety, or depression. Even stress and burn out are a struggle, though usually more temporarily. For others they're battling to survive without a support system or without financial means.
If you reach out to help someone in their time of need you've gained a lifetime friend. You've also gained some good karma in this world. This call to action isn’t meant to convince you to organize a sou- sou, pay for someone else's gas, or but food for the person behind you in the drive-thru. These things may be helpful and, they may be celebrated. However there is no real humanity behind these transaction. The humanness needs to be engaged by the giver and by the receiver for these acts to carry meaning, not simply luck. Make your contributions personal so that the person receiving your help knows who you are, what you stand for, and why. It is difficult to do this with a stranger, but if you do this with the neighbor, coworker, or family member you begin to change the culture. You begin to develop community.
This cycle of giving will uplift the culture of your workplace and of your community alike. It gives meaning to your work and your work relationships. Who cares about producing more plastic circles or whatever you produce? People make it important. You'll gain more positive relationships this way. Your bosses will see you and your community unit much more positively. Not only will they see a unified team, but the team will in-fact unify. At home, the police will see a cohesive and supportive neighborhood community. That unity is what we need right now in every aspect of life. Don't let the internet or the media trolls divide us.
Bless your friends, family, and neighbors with your presence and your gifts.
A recent study from University of Chicago Neuroscientists shows that we have parts of our brain dedicated to self preservation and areas dedicated to fairness for others. These areas are don’t overlap. The areas for self interest seem to dominate, especially earlier in life. Interestingly,the areas of the brain dedicated to fairness activate easier once personal needs are met. So, believe what you would like to believe. Do what it takes to take care of yourself and your family. Strive for your own successes. Reach for your goals. Just do not hurt others along your path. Consciously avoid worsening your neighbors' livelihood to improve your own. In fact do the opposite when you have extra cash, extra time, extra energy. Bless your friends, family, and neighbors with your presence and your gifts. Develop relationships with these people built on trust. Everyone’s success and happiness in life depends on it.
Until next time my people.
BasuMallick, C. (2020, August 25). What Is Job Satisfaction? Definition, Factors, Importance, Statistics, and Examples. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.toolbox.com/hr/engagement-retention/articles/what-is-job-satisfaction/
Gallup State of the American Workplace Report. (2020). 17-19, 61, 116- 119. From https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx
Neal, Z. P. (2014, September 5). Community. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756384/obo-9780199756384-0080.xml
Wang, J. (2020, August 24). How do we balance self-interest with fairness for others? Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://news.uchicago.edu/story/how-do-we-balance-self-interest-fairness-others
Weir, K. (2013, December). More than job satisfaction. Monitor on Psychology, 44(11). http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/12/job-satisfaction