For most, September feels more like the start to a new year than January. Blame it on the harvest moon, or blame it on our memories of filing into new classrooms with pencils perfectly sharpened. Whatever the reason, we can’t shake the expectation that we are about to have new experiences.
And as much as we lament the end of the summer holidays, there’s something in the air that makes us eager to rev up and hit the workplace running. That’s great news for employers … maybe.
That sense of newness that sweeps over us at the start of the month can just as easily turn into lunch-box let-down. There’s nothing more discouraging than to anticipate change only to find ourselves locked into a same-old, same-old routine.
And where that’s the case, it’s bad news for employers. Those who return to work eager for new challenges that don’t happen can become demotivated, and restless in a flash. And in the mood to seek new work.
We’ve seen it often enough to know. For more than 40 years, high-achieving top-notch candidates have come to us looking for new opportunities because they’re frustrated either by managers or workplace cultures that don’t encourage change.
That’s why we tell our clients that innovation is not just critical for products to continue to be competitive. At The Bagg Group, we know that employees must be allowed to innovate as well, or they’ll lose their edge.
We have reams of anecdotal evidence that echo the findings of quantitative studies on that very point. When it comes to performance, how employees feel about their work is shown to have more impact than their competence.
That’s a fact that we at The Bagg Group take to heart when we interview candidates for full-time, contract or temporary placements. Just being good at a job is not good enough. If a candidate, however skilled, doesn’t feel enthusiastic about the work and the company, we know it’s not going to be the right fit.
Again, science confirms it. One of the most oft-quoted studies is by psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. He measured the performance of hundreds of employees for 18 months. The results: Those happy with their job get better evaluations and move up the pay scale. No surprise to us that they’re also more collaborative, creative, effective, loyal and take fewer sick days.
But there’s good news for those suffering a September slump. It’s really not all that difficult to make the move from miserable to satisfied.
The latest findings of the global Happiness at Work study show that people’s feelings about their work can change on a dime.
That said, it’s true that to move the needle from negative to positive, two things have to happen. First, employees must find interest in their work. Secondly, they need to feel they have their manager’ trust.
If those conditions are essentially there, but the excitement is gone, here are four key questions to start a dialogue to get it back and harness the energy of September:
- What’s one new thing you’d like to try this fall?
- What’s a pet project that you’d like to devote some time to—if you could? How could you make the time?
- What new skill would you like to learn or expand on? How would you like to make that happen?
- What (realistically do-able) improvements would you like to make to the work environment?
By the way, prepare for a particularly unusual and perhaps more energetic September, at least according to the Farmer’s Almanac. This year, the harvest moon happens September 18-19, which is earlier than usual.