Meaning at work for talent

Oxfordshire has high employment, so there is a lot of competition for quality candidates amongst different employers.

The fact that many employees are sitting in their jobs because of austerity and uncertainty isn’t new news – it has been covered extensively in the media, as has causes of the UK’s poor productivity vs. other European countries.

What may be a surprise is how employees are fed up of the rat race and planning an exit to do work that is more meaningful and which gives back to the world. Many of our career coaching clients say that they are fed up with politics and want to have more influence/control over their work life blend. This represents a danger to big companies and employers generally – how do you keep your talent happy when they want something different to what you are offering, e.g. to be entrepreneurial and become self-employed, or to develop a varied and fulfilling portfolio career?

Can employers meet both the needs of the organisation and talent for a ‘win win’? Losing your best people is an expensive headache and with Generation Y and Generation Z less loyal than previous generations, this situation is likely to get worse over time.

So as an employer, how can you influence talent attraction and retention?

5 tips to create more meaning and autonomy at work for talent

1) Create smaller business units to give increased role variety and enhanced autonomy and responsibility for talent

2) Engage your talent in this problem and get them to come up with the solution

3) Look at what the best small businesses are doing – they are your real competitor

4) Introduce an external expert to elicit talent’s unexpressed needs and aspirations and how they can be met

5) Proactively introduce part time work as the norm so talent can combine security with risk in a portfolio career

Inspiring quote

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Erich Fromm

Self-reflective question

How could our organisation update the psychological contract to give talent more meaning and autonomy?


What next? Energise provide a free exploratory 1-hour meeting with the decision maker for human capital in progressive organisations open to change. Get in touch

Interested in introducing more flexible working practices?

Book your place at our event in London 12-2pm Tuesday 16 July 2019, ‘Flex your work and future proof your career’:

Book Now

What skills are needed in the future world of work and is it the individual, employer, or both who is responsible for ensuring that they are developed? Read our 2-part article on future skills for a lifelong competitive advantage for the award winning Future of Work Hub.  Part 2 features a couple of Oxfordshire organisations.

Future skills for a lifelong competitive advantage part 1

Future skills for a lifelong competitive advantage part 2

The positives of uncertainty

Lost and Confused Signpost

There is a lot of ongoing uncertainty about. But it does have some positives.

While on holiday in Sicily one year, I awoke to hotter than expected June air and the smell of smoke. Mount Etna the volcano erupting I thought.

It wasn’t.

My husband and I headed to the shop in the resort for fresh bread and there very close, beyond the fence was fire. The resort staff had fear in their eyes. Breakfast would have to wait. No need to use the toaster today.

Returning quickly to our apartment the phone rang. “Down to the beach now”, the voice said. We left immediately, without taking even water or a book.

At the beach we joined other holiday makers, standing on the sand, their faces covered with towels.

From the beach, we could see fires getting closer, large trees ignited in seconds. We were not certain that they would be contained, whether we could return to our apartment that day, or indeed at all. Uncertainty cloaked the air like the smoke. Water was handed out and cloth to put over our faces. Parents with young children looked worried. Later we were told it was no longer safe to stay at the beach and we must move to the pool area higher up.

This way that way signOur uncertainty about what was happening was magnified as the updates were given in Italian and German, but not English, and we were the only English! We finally returned to our apartment 8 hours later, our short ordeal, captives from the wild fires over.

I faced a day of uncertainty due to the fires in Sicily. The Leave decision means people in the UK face 2 years plus of uncertainty. Many people, businesses and the city dislike uncertainty. How do you feel about it?

One of the things I love about my portfolio career is its uncertainty. I have been self-employed for over 22 years with the occasional certainty of a contract, which I sought if I was going abroad for a month at Christmas. In the main, I have little certainty and I love the fact that it is always changing and I can influence its shape myself.

Uncertainty doesn’t have to be negative, it is how you choose to perceive it.

Positives of uncertainty

  • The feeling of surprise
  • Reduced chance of complacency
  • Extra vigilance and awareness of trends and their impact
  • Not boring
  • A sense of curiosity about what is around the corner
  • Focus on living in the moment and being present
  • Appreciating what you have now rather than thinking about what you might have in future
  • A sense of wonder and possibility
  • Being nimble and agile to respond to what changes
  • Being adaptable
  • Focusing on what you CAN influence not what you can’t
  • The liberating feeling of creating your destiny and being responsible for your own outcomes
  • Taking a creative, enterprising solution focused approach
  • Growing resilience
  • Adopting the attitude that you can and will work it out as you go along, rather than everything having to be perfect and certain

All these positive aspects of uncertainty are also a characteristic of having a portfolio career.

A portfolio career is like having ‘career insurance’, peace of mind for uncertain times. I love my portfolio career and helping people to create theirs. I have an ‘inner turbo boost resilience button’ which is activated when the going gets tough – I access extra resourcefulness to overcome challenges and see uncertainty as an opportunity not a threat.

Uncertainty does not have to be your foe, it can be a friend. A portfolio career is perfect for uncertain times, now more than ever.

How can we help you to create your portfolio career or make a career change? Get in touch.

Energise Events

1 day ‘Headspace for clarity’ career workshop 9.30am to 5pm Thursday 11 July 2019, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. Book now.

2-4pm Tuesday 16 July 2019 ‘Flex your work and future proof your career’ London. Early bird tickets on sale.

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