In the early 1980s, two researchers named Richard Daft and Richard Steers looked at the sources of employee motivation and made a worrying discovery: the average worker was lazy and motivated almost entirely by money.
Three decades later, things have changed dramatically. In a recent Intelligence Group study, 64% of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.
According to Millennial Branding founder, Dan Schawbel, the majority of millennials want to enjoy their work more than anything else.
How then does this relate to aptitude or job suitability? One way to think about it is that we are most passionate about careers that we are most suited for or have the greatest aptitude for.
Being good at what we do makes us happy All of us possess natural talents that come easier to us than they do to others. While this may not always appear to be the case – particularly in times of self-discovery and exploration – it certainly is. When honed and effectively applied within a professional setting, our innate talents tend to lead us to perform our jobs at a level that is ahead of the curve. Then come the plaudits and as the cycle continues: we begin to develop feelings of personal pride. A study conducted by the University of Rhode Island Labor Center found that positive reinforcement in the workplace not only increases the probability that certain behavior will occur again in the future, but also significantly boosts self-esteem. Moreover, without it employees can easily become unmotivated and, over time, feel undervalued within an organization. As young adults, we still have most of our working lives ahead of us. It is, therefore, worth the time and effort required to find out who we are, what we are good at and use this information to our advantage. Happiness may very well follow as a by-product. A very welcome one, at that.
Being good at what we do will give we the greatest shot at work-life balance Ever tried to build a 2-story cabin? If so, it should have taken no longer than 13 hours. Assuming, of course, that we are going by the standards set by the National League of Elite Professional Carpenters (NLEPC). This means that if one were working full-time in the industry, he or she would be expected to build at least three two-story cabins each week to be considered better than average. Does not seem likely – even if any of this carpentry jabber were in the slightest bit true. The point, however, is this. Unless we are extremely good at what we do, most of us find will find it very difficult to be consistently good at our jobs and have time for other endeavors in life. Herein lies the issue. As a generation, we often associate success with a well-balanced life: career advancement, happiness, good health, a strong social network and more. According to a 2014 Business Insider publication, however, if we give too much to our work lives, our ability to thrive in other areas will be severely limited. Solution: find a career in which we possess a natural advantage. Only then, will we have the time and energy to be well-rounded greats.
Individual and collective happiness are strongly tied to one another By young adulthood, most of us have subscribed – at some level – to the utilitarian perspective that promotes individuals working toward to a common good, irrespective of personal benefit. In many ways, this age-old approach to going about life will always make sense. In the case of our careers, for instance, we are expected to bring value to an organization, cause or initiative that is working to best serve its community and, generally speaking, the world as a whole. The more we are able to contribute at an individual level, the more likely it is that the companies that employ us will be able to reach their own objectives. And in reaching their own objectives, those companies are then able to reward us. It is a virtuous cycle. During the past few years, we have seen a rise in high performing companies rewarding workers with a multitude of perks and benefits. In fact, it is no surprise that Google and SAS, occupants of the first and second spots on 2014 FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work for® list, are among the top earning businesses in the United States. Finding something we are passionate about and good at helps not just us but the world as a whole.
The 80s had it all wrong. Its not about money. Its about finding our passion.
We each have a career fit. We owe to ourselves – as individuals and as a collective – discover and explore it.
So where to from here? The only way is up.