The motivators of a positive workplace

Q: You must know some simple rules to look for when
finding a new job. I talk to friends who love their work and their
office mates. I don’t have that now. Instead, I have someone next to me
who tries to change my political opinions, another who never washes his
hands and someone near me who thinks we all want to hear about her
recent dates. I try to avoid all of them but we are packed in like

A: Oh no! This doesn’t sound like a positive work
environment for you. Based upon my own very UNscientific observations,
here is what I think are some of the motivators of a positive workplace.

1. A connection to the work. Most satisfied
employees I talk with have some connection to their work. They love what
they do or they love MOST of what they do. Sales people might love
closing the deal. Interior designers might love finding the right fabric
for a project. A kindergarten teacher might love hearing a child read
their first word.

2. A connection to the client, the end user, the patient, the student, the community or the guest.
Often times, I hear from employees that they love the population with
whom they work. They love their customers, their most challenging
patients or the kids in their classroom. Enthusiastic employees will
often feel energized and refreshed after they have shared a successful
moment (or moments!) with that customer!

3. A connection to colleagues! It sounds like that
might be missing for you. Employees don’t have to be best friends.
However, it makes it more pleasant if you enjoy the folks that work in
the cube one over from you. A common interest (e.g., the love of Tom
Brady or skiing) can link people together. Or you might have two people
share a bond because they take the same train into the office. I have
one client that has started a growing contest in the hopes of improving
the connection between office mates. The employees are voting on what to
grow (e.g., tomatoes, sunflowers, daisies, etc.) and then they all try
to grow, from seed, these plants. Every two weeks, the CFO will be
measuring and recording the results! In June, they plan to announce a
winner! Even those without a green thumb are interested in the contest! I
can’t change your current co-worker situation unfortunately. However,
if you look at new opportunities, take a tour. Ask employees what they
like and dislike about the company. You will hear a lot!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.