Let me begin by painting a quick picture.
“Many workplace practices are as harmful as secondhand smoke.”
“Workplace environments in the United States may be responsible for 120,000 excess deaths per year—which would make workplaces the fifth leading cause of death—and account for about $180 billion in additional health-care expenditures, approximately 8 percent of the total health-care spending.”
Job stress costs US employers more than $300 billion annually.
Seventy-nine percent of people who quit their jobs cite lack of appreciation as their reason for leaving.
“According to the Mayo Clinic, the person you report to at work is more important for your health than your family doctor.”
Fifty-eight percent of employees say they trust strangers more than their boss.
A whopping 73 percent of those surveyed say they work strictly for the paycheck.
Last, but certainly not least…
Fifty-eight percent of managers say they did not receive any management training whatsoever.
These staggering statistics illustrate the severity of the current crisis of suffering in the world of work. Most of us spend the vast majority of our lives at work, and what we give is infinitely greater than just our time and energy. Research shows what many of us already instinctively know: the way we work isn’t working anymore.
We leave work with less energy, less confidence in our skills and ability, and more frustration. Now we have confirmed research on the toll all of this stress and suffering takes on our health and well-being. As Jeffrey Pfeffer finds, we are literally dying for a paycheck.
Take a step back and simply reflect on the language you hear at work. These likely sound familiar: “She threw me under the bus,” or “He stabbed me in the back.” How about our everyday use of “targets,” “pick your battles,” “marshalling resources,” “command and control,” and even “execution?”
Language is powerful. Our words shape our experience and reflect our thinking patterns and beliefs. By taking a quick glance at our language, we can clearly see how we are filling the workplace with words of war and violence. What would our environment look like if it was filled with metaphors of love and collaboration?
This crisis of suffering occurs at all levels of the organization. People often look at those at the senior level or near the C-suite and imagine work is less brutal there.
Unfortunately, that is also not the case. There’s quiet, pervasive suffering at this level as well. Executives feel they must constantly prove themselves, never feeling psychologically safe. Worse, when executives feel the pressure to have all the answers, they hold back vital information, fail to consult, and actively block others for fear they’ll lose their position or perceived authority.
The company and the executives themselves suffer from harmful competition and ego, wasted time and effort that could be spent on any number of more useful things. Unfortunately, these patterns ripple through the entire organization like a heavy rock dropped into a pond.
Fortunately, there are profoundly better ways of working. The suffering isn’t necessary! The old ways of management that brought us here aren’t working for the new world of work, but we can and will evolve beyond them.
My book is about embracing our own evolution and the evolution of our leadership beliefs, practices, and organizations. I offer deep insight into the beliefs and skills that will need to change, provide intentional practices to adopt, and describe case studies of organizations who have already successfully made the leap.
Evolved Executives and organizations not only thrive in the new world, often showing significant performance improvement compared to traditional organizations, but they do so while bringing purpose, meaning, and human connection to their employees and communities.
From my years climbing the corporate ladder, I’ve seen firsthand the suffering at work, but from my training in academia and my firsthand experience working with executives and leaders at evolving organizations, I can say with certainty there is a better way.
For more insight into how we can change the world of work to create happier and more productive companies, check out my book, The Evolved Executive: The Future of Work Is Love in Action.