Why Should Anyone Work Here

Too many firms apply Band-Aids to employee dissatisfaction

LBS campus

With employee engagement levels low and falling, two organisational behaviour experts from London Business School encourage organisations to ask the question, why should anyone work here?

In their new book Why Should Anyone Work Here?, Rob Goffee, Emeritus Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School, and Gareth Jones, Fellow, Executive Education, London Business School, and Visiting Professor at IE Business School, argue that organisations now more than ever need to understand their employees’ goals to retain the top talent. In doing so, this creates an environment for sustained high performance. 

Professor Goffee says: “Disenchantment with organisations is a modern malaise. All too often, organisations apply Band-Aid responses to problems and are ill-prepared in addressing underlying organisational issues.” 

In their latest book, experts Goffee and Jones identify six key workplace characteristics that they argue will allow individuals to feel engaged with their organisation and achieve their full professional potential. 

“We interviewed hundreds of executives and asked them to describe their organisation of dreams,” explains Professor Goffee. “Responses broadly fell into six themes. If implemented, this framework would allow individuals to identify more strongly with their organisation and achieve their full potential.”

The characteristics Professor Goffee and Professor Jones identify are:

1. Difference – let people be themselves. Create an organisation that can accommodate differences in perspective, habits of mind, core assumptions, and worldviews, and then go beyond accommodation to create a place where difference is celebrated and even leveraged to add value.

2. Radical honesty – communicate what’s really going on. Organisations need to recognize the importance of communications, both internally and to wider stakeholders. 

3. Extra value – magnify people’s strengths. High performance arises when individuals on all levels within the organisation feel they can grow through their work, adding value to the organisation as it adds value to them.

4. Authenticity – stand for something real. Authentic organisations encourage you to be your best self at work and to perform to your full potential.

5. Meaning – create satisfying work. Employees need to understand how their work contributes to the organisation and beyond, how it connects to what colleagues are doing and how it adds value overall. 

6. Simple rules – reduce the clutter and make things clear. An ideal company is a company with clear rules that make sense to the people who follow them, and it remains ever vigilant about maintaining that clarity and simplicity.

Professor Jones concludes: “Whether you like it or not, you will spend most of your adult waking life at work. It had better be a place you can be yourself. Good work gives us good societies.”