How can leaders ensure every employee feels fulfilled?

Manager, Coach and Cheerleader

The awakened employee

We’ve talked recently about a huge reset in the workplace. The changes we’re seeing have been on the cards for quite a while—driven by advances in technology, today’s 24/7 world, and the feeling that we should be working to live, not living to work, are making it even more challenging for leaders to ensure every employee feels fulfilled in their role.

With the very real threat of not surviving the killer virus, it’s perhaps natural that many of us took a long, hard look at our lives and careers during the pandemic. The workaholics amongst us may have asked ‘why do I put in so many hours?’; those tasked with unsociable shifts, often for poor pay (such as the hospitality sector, healthcare and distribution), may have thought ‘there’s got to be a better, easier way of earning a living; people for whom self-employment had always been a dream may have thought ‘what am I waiting for?’.

We’ve seen some fallout of these decisions already: recruiters struggling to fill vacancies countrywide; empty shelves in shops and supermarkets, in part due to a lack of drivers; people coming out of care work and casual jobs after remembering their worth.

The clamour to remain working from home got louder as the pandemic rumbled on. It was deemed fine and dandy by employers to have a remote workforce at the outset of Covid (i.e. when we were told to work from home, to restrict the spread of the virus); it’s then unfair to claim it doesn’t work for a business when real experience, facts and figures show it does. Given how many things people commit to during their conscious hours, and the fact that, due to technology, we can login from anywhere in the world, remote working should be welcomed permanently. It’s an outdated, backwards mentality to believe otherwise, which may impede employees from feeling fulfilled in their role.

Female production line worker
However, whilst flexible hours and working from home is suitable for people that work in offices, it’s not an option for a proportion of the population who have front-facing, people-centric jobs. Someone working a factory line can’t exactly ask their boss to install one in their garden shed. Doctors and nurses can’t operate in their living rooms. Bus drivers can’t just change route to collect their kids from school during their working hours. In a huge number of jobs, remote working doesn’t even come into it. Flexible hours can’t be exercised too much either when your employer is only open between the traditional 9 to 5 and you have to be present in the workplace.

The new model of working

This ‘new’ model of working, therefore, whether fully remote or hybrid, will only be a perk within some industries. Given how it has suited the work/life balance of many families over the last eighteen months, you can see why they would want it to continue. They may feel that the autonomy to decide their working priorities, the trust that their managers give them to work from home, and the ability to have work fit into their life rather than their life fitting around work are contributors to their fulfilment in their job. It’s easy to see why this would be.

So, what about everyone else? What about the employees mentioned above, who can’t ask for a different working model, due to the operation and constraints of the business? How can these employees feel fulfilled?

Helping every employee feel fulfilled, regardless of their job role is certainly a subject their managers should be focused on, if they don’t want to lose them to a different job or sector that does offer the hallowed combination of flexibility and autonomy. How can someone working on that factory line, doing manual work amid a noisy, often dirty environment, feel as fulfilled as the office worker who can roll out of bed to their desk, who can enjoy leisurely meals, peace and quiet and peace of mind, and who can take a long walk through surrounding fields at lunchtime to clear their mind? Be honest: which of those working environments/patterns would you prefer?

It’s all about managing expectations.

For ease of explanation, let’s assume John is the factory worker and Joe is the one working from home with all the benefits laid out above.

John fully understands that he can’t take his work home with him to complete. He knows that’s how the business has to operate, so he doesn’t hanker after remote working as a possibility. However, that’s not to say he can’t feel just as fulfilled in his job.

Male Factory Worker
He can be given the same autonomy in his role as Joe. He can still manage his workload, his machine, his priorities, with trust from his manager that he will do the job well and on time. Just as Joe doesn’t have his boss breathing down his neck when working at home, John’s manager could exercise the same.

John may not get to dictate his hours like Joe, but he could still be offered perks and upsides in his role, such as gym vouchers, a subsidised canteen, performance bonuses, a healthy workplace culture where he can share a bit of humour with his workmates. Eight hours at home for Joe can be broken up by ten minutes of gardening when the weather’s nice; eight hours at work for John could feel tedious and drawn out if there are no lighter moments. Strive for this balance in every role, and your team won’t compare themselves to Joe and employees like him; they’ll feel looked after, valued and appreciated right where they are.


Money is not the driving factor

Many studies show that money is not the driving factor for many employees. Enjoyment of the job, feeling respected and feeling that they’re a key component of the team and the company as a whole, are things money can’t buy. Fulfilled employees may not even realise that they enjoy these elements, but remove any one of them, and you will have unhappy bunnies on your team.

Leaders need to understand what motivates John because it’s clearly different to the drivers Joe has. John’s manager will also have to understand what motivates John’s colleagues, because every single person on John’s team is an individual, with different likes, dislikes, preferences, goals, strengths and weaknesses. As well as demonstrating their organisational prowess and business acumen, managers in today’s workplaces have also to be counsellors, psychologists, coaches and enablers.

Understanding the people they’re tasked with supporting is half the battle.

If you would like to speak with one of our team, book a free consultation

The Jigsaw Discovery Tool and learning experiences answer the “So What?” question that very few management tools are capable of answering. Your understanding evolves, allowing you to put all the pieces together.

Jigsaw Discovery Experiences asks the best questions. The ones that will solve problems with insight, meaning that leaders know what actions to take and understand what the implications will be as their team start to rebuild, refocus and perform; They also know how they can support individual team members to find fulfilment and be motivated in their role.

Get in touch, if you want to know more about how your leaders can get the best from their teams, as we start to build better workplaces

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