Give me your soul ... I'll give you health insurance
That's a pretty cynical title, I know, but it was inspired by a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with a former corporate attorney who has escaped what she describes as the tyranny of her corporate life.
Although she didn't know it at the time, her being let go by her organization was actually a blessing in disguise.
I'm making a lot of assertions in this post, but what I gathered from our conversation was right along the lines of a John Grisham novel. Of course it's tough to be "downsized" and to lose the paycheck and benefits of full-time employment. But what my friend didn't realize until she no longer had that regular job was how much that paycheck was actually costing her in quality of personal life.
As we talked more about her experience in Corporate America, it became clearer to me that, at least in her experience, the powers that be really didn't want her heart or soul; they just wanted her expertise and her loyalty. In exchange, they gave her childcare, health insurance and a fairly hefty salary. The key, from what I learned in our conversation, was the word EXCHANGE.
Is that what's happening for most employed people in Corporate America today? Are bosses consciously asking for what my friend reported: brawn but no brain?
Perhaps I'm an eternal optimist, but I find this a little disheartening. I really believed that this would be an exception: that most people would be encouraged to develop their whole selves and bring all of themselves to work, where we could create more fulfillment for employees, less turnover, more productivity, and overall, happier people.
Is that just a dream? Or do you know of companies or organizations that do allow their employees to develop higher awareness and bring all of themselves to work?
My blogging buddy Alex Kjerulf lives in Denmark, which 20/20 reports is the happiest country on earth. Alex would agree. His company is called Happy at Work where he is the Chief Happiness Officer. His blog is called Positive Sharing and he makes his living telling people around the world how (and why) they could be happy at work.
Thanks to Alex's work and blog and what it demonstrates, I'm holding out hope that Corporate America isn't an either/or place to work and we will be able to learn about and share even more examples of what happens when people are happy at work. The leaders today who we're hoping for are those who demonstrate the effects of doing business with head and heart attached.
How about soul AND health insurance?