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What comes to your mind when you hear “workplace wellness?” As an HR specialist, you’re more than familiar with health promotion programs and prevention measures against burnout. But you may not know about another less obvious, insidious affliction that could be harming the performance your best employees right now.
Occupational identity, or sense of self in the workplace, can have a surprisingly profound impact on your health. Losing touch with your occupational identity is a type of social stressor which, as studies consistently report, can lead to many negative health effects: high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, exhaustion, irritation… the list goes on and on. No doubt, compromising your employees’ occupational identities comes with a huge, permanently damaging price tag.
Occupational identity's biggest enemy
So what sorts of things threaten occupational identity? Bullying, disrespect, and lack of appreciation in the office all have the power to harm self-esteem over time, which in turn, directly affect employee productivity. But perhaps the subtlest yet equally dangerous culprit is the “illegitimate task,” or an assignment unrelated to your profession.
Imagine a consultant who went through years and years of schooling to get her degree. She endured the whole grind, studying hard to earn top marks in class and land highly coveted internships. She’s climbed every ladder there is to climb, and at last, she can reap the fruits of her labor as a consultant, banker or engineer at a respected firm.
Now stick the same ambitious consultant in a desk and make her painstakingly format PowerPoint slides for hours on end. She starts resenting the company and doubting her own capabilities. She thinks back to those years dedicated to honing her craft and then looks at herself now. Was it all worth it?
Maybe you’ve felt this kind of thankless stress before. You’ve been relegated to assignments that neither contribute to nor affirm your occupational identity. You can’t help but feel a little miffed, and might even question your career path trajectory: “This isn’t what I went to business school for!”
This is where you come in
Employees shouldn’t feel a dissonance within their occupational selves, and they shouldn’t be stressing over projects that demean their value to the company. Frustration is better spent on tackling challenges that push them to perform well, not on minute duties that cause resentment and insecurity.
Show interest in your employees’ work and assign them exciting tasks that will invigorate and help them grow. Here at no-more, our research and PowerPoint specialists are ready to handle the nitty-gritty and let your employees focus on what got them here in the first place. It’s time to say goodbye to occupational identity crisis.