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Is work becoming part of the daily grind? The aspect of people’s lives they no longer look forward to?

By Kelley Reynard

Have you ever had that ‘light bulb’ moment of sudden inspiration or enlightenment, when an idea pops suddenly into your head after no deliberate or intentional direction of your thoughts? Mine came this morning when I was getting off the train at Parliament Station in the Melbourne CBD. I was immediately taken back to the tube station in London as a young backpacker feeling so trapped and congested by the millions of people surrounding me, rushing up the escalators to get to work. Today’s commute was unusual for me as I frequently ride my bike into the city, and it really hit me when getting off the train as to why I love and enjoy this method of transportation. The freedom, the air on your face, and the endorphins that come with the exercise all increase energy and motivation to face the day ahead.

I looked around at people’s faces this morning on their way to work and not one single person was smiling or seemed happy. I was pleased to be coming to work and excited for the day ahead; working for a company with great people and a great culture, and being able to take ownership of my own projects and writing about the things that matter. When I took a moment to glance around at everyone’s serious, unsmiling faces, I thought to myself, ‘this is what I am going to write about today; the noticeable absence of positivity on the way to work’.

It is almost as though we have become like robots. Waking up at the same time during the week, getting ready for the day ahead whilst on ‘autopilot’, coming home and cooking dinner, and finally being able to relax on the couch for a few minutes before going to bed and doing it all over again tomorrow. It had me thinking this morning when looking around at everyone; has our human element been somewhat lost, taken over by the day-to-day activities of work and the responsibilities that follow?

I once worked in a highly stressful job that affected every element of my physical and emotional wellbeing. I was completely unhappy, and it too showed on my face rushing up those escalators at the train station to clock in at 8:30am. I lasted there 6 months, and I knew it was my purpose to somehow make a positive difference and impact to people’s working lives. Employees should have meaning and feel fulfilled at work, they should feel safe and be inspired by the culture around them, and most importantly, their happiness and wellbeing should not be compromised. After all, most of us are at work five days a week, and if we really don’t feel connected to the purpose of our work, can we truly be motivated?

My role as a Provisional Psychologist in Organisational behaviour has provided me with extensive knowledge about the importance of employee productivity, engagement, and wellbeing, and the extent to which organisational culture and the job itself impacts on these aspects in an enormous way. To get the most out of your people and make certain they excel to influence the organisation’s competitive advantage, get back to basics. Treat people as human beings and empower them for the strengths they hold, and you can ensure your workers will be the ones smiling on those escalators on their way to work.