I’m one of an increasing number of people who are waking up to the fact that we humans simply aren’t cut out for what Western culture is throwing at us. We’re connected to our work 24/7. We are working harder, for longer, for less. The monetary reward is really inconsequential when we’re talking about the slow degrading of what it means to be human.
If I had my way, the world would be a different place. People wouldn’t feel the need to work tirelessly to prove their worth through the acquisition of material things or the elevation of their perceived status. But I’m also a realist. Whilst through a shift in consciousness we could change the world overnight, it may not happen in the time it’ll take me to write this post, so I’ll keep going!
In the western world, we are subscribed to the notion that a booming economy is the best thing for our wellbeing, so let’s use this status quo as our starting position.
Work related stress is increasing year on year. The west is facing a mental health crisis with depression becoming a pandemic. How long can we continue to exploit employees (people) for short-term gain? My sense is that we will continue to do so until we become unrecognisable as compassionate, emotional beings. At some point the wheels will fall off and we’ll have to consider a different way of being. Until then, stress and depression are here to stay. So let’s stop ignoring them, overriding them with caffeine and numbing them with alcohol. It’s time to have the bigger conversation. No matter how elaborate and avoidant a vision or mission statement is, the truth is that your employer is there to make money from your skills. However, this shouldn’t be at the cost of your soul.
So what’s the answer? Honestly? A global awakening would be nice. Whilst we wait patiently for that, employers need to start thinking very differently about what constitutes ‘personal development’. The term is often used as a veiled mechanism for exploitation, especially in the case of ‘Performance Management’. In some organisations it’d be more honest to refer to such practices as Personal Degradation. In my previous career, I am embarrassed to admit that I have borne witness to far too many ‘Performance Management Plans’ that have been designed to fail from the outset. My heart aches for those people who were degraded and humiliated in this way, when a compassionate conversation would have achieved the same result, yet may have left those people’s dignity and confidence intact. Where I was complicit in these conversations, I apologise unreservedly.
Anyway, this post was about life coaching in business and I hadn’t quite realised how much I had to say on the subject of the commercial world until my fingers hit the keys! Yes, life coaching. Well if you haven’t worked it out from the above, let me go on another little ramble but this time I’ll address it directly to your employer.
You’re a person too, so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Your people are emotionally and spiritually running on empty. Your drive to make profits for your shareholders in noble, but is shortsighted on your part if you fail to address the fundamental human needs of the people whose skills you employ to secure that profitability.
You may proclaim that the money your business makes is what provides salaries for these employees, and that without this, they’d be a lot worse off. Limiting your responsibility for your employee’s welfare to the distribution of a pay check alone is unkind at best, and negligent at worst. Your responsibilities stem way beyond this.
On the backdrop of a global mental health crisis in the west, every employer should remind themselves that they employee emotional, loving, kind and compassionate people. Despite the fact a spreadsheet often turns these things of beauty into ‘resources’ that have a monetary value, the same spreadsheet cannot strip away those fundamental human qualities. Dehumanising your workforce in search of profit is not sustainable. If you want a business in the next 10 years, wake up to the fact your people are waking up. Notice your own awakening if you need any more proof.
Your personal development aims are noble, but flawed. Yes, your employees need support to develop their skills - most people want to do a good job and produce results they can be proud of. But developing your employees goes beyond skill alone. Be a trailblazing employer and take the bold step of developing your employee’s souls, too. Help them understand their natural strengths. Support them in the development of practices that energise their minds and nourish their inner selves. Help them define their purpose. Create something bigger than the sum of the individual parts. Use the vehicle of your business to contribute towards things that have an impact on humanity. Create a legacy to be proud of.
Your employees are waking up. You know this, because you are too. You’re questioning the meaning of it all more than ever before. Your employees are doing the same. You’re challenging your long-held beliefs. Your employees are doing the same. You keep finding yourself in thought about your legacy. Your employees are doing the same.
Wake up. It’s time to have the bigger conversation.
I’m a Life Coach and Trainee Psychotherapist. I’ve worked with employers and their employees to help them navigate this emerging terrain. The conversations have been emotional, nourishing and authentic. Oh, and business has improved. Feel free to contact me when you’re ready to have the conversation.