Deriving meaning, purpose, and wellbeing from our jobs
What do you think when you think about 'worklife’?
Because worklife is not just about managing time effectively or achieving that elusive “work-life balance” but deeply exploring how we can derive meaning, purpose, and wellbeing from our jobs while also maintaining our mental health and personal relationships.
Adam Grant, the globally-renowned organisational psychologist, often explores themes on this concept in his bestselling books and his TED WorkLife podcast. So, ahead of his in-person tour to Australia in early 2024 Adam Grant LIVE: Unlock Hidden Potential & Transform WorkLife, let’s look at “WorkLife” and how Grant links it to better outcomes at work for all.
The Shift in Perspective
In his highly engaging way, Adam Grant has often explored the inside workings of unconventional workplaces and practices that challenge our traditional notions of what work should look like.
He emphasises the psychology behind motivation, creativity, and meaning at work. The pandemic forced us to do something similar, albeit more urgently: rethink and reshape our work environments and methodologies.
COVID-19 brought about an almost instantaneous move to remote work for many, a change previously thought too radical for mainstream adoption.
This shift wasn't just logistical but psychological. For many, home turned into an office, blurring the boundaries between personal and professional lives. Did this happen in your own life?
Expanding on Grant's themes, let’s consider three profound ways worklife has been reimagined since the pandemic:
Flexibility as a Norm, Not a Perk: Before the pandemic, flexible hours and remote working were often seen as privileges or perks. Today, they are increasingly viewed as standard offerings, even necessities. This shift isn’t just about physical location but also about empowering employees to work when they are at their most productive and inspired, leading to increased job satisfaction.
Redefining Productivity: In the WorkLife podcast, Grant looks at the dynamics of procrastination, suggesting that sometimes, waiting can be a strategic advantage. The pandemic further demonstrated that constant busyness doesn't equate to productivity. Quality of work and the wellbeing of the employee have become paramount. Virtual work requires trust, and many organisations have shifted from monitoring hours to evaluating output and results.
Humanising the Workplace: Once Zoom meetings took us inside our bosses and coworkers' homes and lives, and introduced us to their kids and their pets, we opened a marvellous can of worms. The unforeseen yet hugely beneficial side effect has been the humanising of the workplace. Workers aren’t seen as just resources; they are individuals with unique lives and challenges. Empathy, a concept Grant often touches upon, became a crucial leadership 'soft skill.'
Future of Worklife: A Speculative Dive
Drawing inspiration from Grant's insights and the lessons from the pandemic, we can anticipate a future where:
Boundary Management Flourishes: The emphasis won't be on balancing work and life in separate silos but integrating them in a way that suits individual needs, perhaps leading to the rise of roles like 'Boundary Managers' or consultants specialising in helping people and companies navigate this blend.
Organisational Health takes Centre Stage: Australia already has Work Health & Safety laws that put the onus on companies to eliminate or mitigate psychosocial hazards, so this conversation is timely. Broadly, we can expect more businesses to start to prioritise organisational health, which encompasses employee wellbeing, robust corporate culture, and operational efficiency. A healthy organisation, as Grant might suggest, is one where people are not just satisfied but also invigorated by their work.
We Define and Build Our Ideal Day: Studies have found that when you energy levels are high, you’re three times more likely to be engaged in work and life (Rath, 2015). As executive coach Duncan Young will explain in his upcoming live virtual event for Growth Faculty 7 Habits to Build Your Ideal Day, defining an 'Ideal Day' can fuel your journey to better wellbeing (Note: This event is a follow-up to the Atomic Habits - James Clear LIVE events on September 8, 11, and 12).
Lifelong Learning Becomes Integral: Grant’s theme of non-conformity and challenging the status quo may lead to a more profound emphasis on adaptability and lifelong learning (see our continually-updated program of learning events). With the rapid pace of change, employees will be encouraged to consistently acquire new skills and knowledge.
The Benefits of a Reimagined Worklife
Embracing these changes can lead to:
Enhanced Creativity and Innovation: A flexible and trust-based environment often fosters creativity. When employees are not stressed about stringent timings or being micromanaged (the symptoms of of a diminisher leader being in charge), they are more likely to think outside the box.
Improved Mental Health: Recognising and validating the challenges of blending personal and professional lives can lead to better mental health support systems in organisations.
Sustainable Performance: Instead of short bursts of high performance followed by burnouts, organisations can achieve sustainable performance levels with employees who are engaged, motivated, and well-rested.
To conclude, while the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, it also accelerated our journey towards reimagining worklife. In line with Adam Grant's insights, it has become evident that understanding human psychology, emphasising flexibility, and fostering trust are paramount.
The future of worklife, then, isn't just about balance, but about creating synergies between our professional and personal lives that allow us both to thrive and to find meaning.
See Adam Grant in person in 2024
Growth Faculty members get discounts for in-person event tickets. Don’t miss Adam Grant’s highly-anticipated Australian tour in 2024 ADAM GRANT – LIVE: Unlock Hidden Potential & Transform WorkLife. Tickets are selling fast. VIP tickets for Sydney are SOLD OUT. Limited VIP tickets left for Melbourne. (See our upcoming program of live virtual and in-person events.)
About Adam Grant
Adam Grant is a renowned organisational psychologist, bestselling author, and global influencer. As Wharton's top-rated professor for seven consecutive years, his expertise in motivation, generosity, original thinking, and rethinking has made him a leading authority in his field.
His five New York Times bestselling books Think Again, Give and Take, Originals, Option B, and Power Moves have resonated with millions of readers in 45 languages. His latest book is Hidden Potential.
With hugely successful TED talks and his TED podcasts WorkLife and ReThinking, plus a substantial social media following and popular monthly newsletter, Adam Grant is one of the world's most inspiring thinkers and speakers.