Do you just tolerate your job? According to a Gallup poll, more than 2/3 of employees in America feel unengaged in their jobs. Some polls even show 70% of us “hate” our jobs. For the few of us who like our jobs, I wonder why. Why do we like our jobs? I have been studying this “oddity” for over two decades and continue to collect data, mostly in support of my original theory showing the importance of workplace friendships.
When I come across someone who appears to like his or her job, I need to know why. I don’t want to know why; I actually need to know why. I can’t move forward with the transaction, interaction, or distraction until I know why. I have, over the years, frustrated friends, upset impatient dinner-dates, embarrassed teenagers – I press on. I have to know why.
Recently, my “fella” and I were vacationing in Las Vegas and visited a restaurant. The server was delightfully happy to serve us. I mean he was really pleased we stopped in for breakfast. Was he trolling for tips? I don’t’ think so but I suspect he knew he’d catch more coin with a smile than a smirk.
Why? I asked.
“Sy?” His name was Sy; I know this because his name tag told me. “Sy, you seem to like your work.”
“Oh, I do. Yes, very much.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m always curious why people like their jobs. So many people either don’t like their jobs or they tolerate them. When I meet someone like you who seems to genuinely like his work, I ask why.”
“I’ve asked this question so often I can mostly see through the fake or phony workers who pretend to like their jobs. You aren’t one of those. You actually seem happy here,” I said.
After 3 or 4 seconds, Sy answered, “I like talking to my customers and helping them have a better day. I like coming to work to see my work family. We get paid well and have good benefits, too.”
“Your work family? I asked.
“Yes, the people I work with are like my family. They always have my back and we are all very close. We are friends here at work.” Sy went on with further examples of how important these work friends were, the rag-tag diverse group of teenagers, adults, and older folks that make up his work family. This middle aged, foreign-born man who takes breakfast orders and refills coffee is happy to be here. And now I know why.
“Thanks, Sy. I’ll have the Lox.”