Harris Interactive polled 1,215 full and part-time workers and asked an interesting question: “If your job were a living, breathing person, would you marry it?” The results were quite telling:

Only 9% of respondents said “yes.”

34% agreed they liked their job enough to “date it seriously.”

43% stated they’d “date it casually.”

9% said the relationship “won’t last long.”

5% said they “want to break up immediately.”

Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace polled nearly 150,000 full and part-time employees and found that 70% either hate their work or are disengaged. Annually, such disenfranchisement costs businesses an estimated $500B in lost productivity, stolen goods and missed days of work.

These studies don’t exactly scream job satisfaction and there’s little wonder why. The average annual salary of full-time employees in the United States is $30,000 and nearly 87% of college graduates don’t work in their field of study within five years. Couple this disconnect with ill-suited career choices and an average student loan debt of $20,000 and it becomes apparent something’s amiss.

Far too many people end up as wage slaves; stuck in the vicious cycle of needing to work in jobs they loathe to pay off debt related to education they don’t use. If this scenario applies to your employees or if morale is waning, it may be time to seek viable alternatives and cultivate careers that create satisfaction, fulfillment, and contentment as opposed to simply providing jobs that perpetuate your troops living at the juncture of bankruptcy.

However, increased salaries, flextime, and perks aren’t enough. The provision of such incentives lacks sustainability and, at best, provides temporary distractions from workplace reality.
dream-jobsSo, what is a CEO to do?

Help your employees identify and pursue the sweet spot, shown in the Venn diagram as ‘Dream Job’, where something they love to do, are good at, and will be paid for all overlap. Like the legs of a tripod, each component is necessary to establish a solid foundation for establishing longevity, loyalty, and commitment within your organization. Remove just one element and stability fails to exist.

For example, if Employee A loves to do something, is good at it, but is paid minimally for their efforts, they’ll leave for greener pastures once a higher-paying position becomes available at another company. Solution: Recognize their talent and pay them what they’re worth.

Conversely, if Employee B is good at completing assigned tasks, is paid well to do so, but they have no love for the activity or skill, they’ll operate with one foot out the door. Solution: Shift them to a position where a meaningful connection exists between what they love to do and what they’re good at.

There is a tremendous difference between being good at something and achieving fulfillment doing it. An employee could spend 20 years filing stacks of paper in alphabetic, numeric, and subject order while blindfolded and become expert at it. However, this reflects an acquired ability, not something they’re compelled to do. When societal expectations or financial pressures lead them to continue performing a skill or service that fails to resonate, an employment expiration date looms on the horizon.

As CEO, a core responsibility is to help your employees identify their WHAT—the ONE thing they were born to do—and find their personal sweet spot where the concentric circles in the diagram overlap. Once discovered and the employee shifts to a position that best aligns with who they naturally are, they’ll welcome each morning with vigor, there won’t be enough hours in the day to accomplish all they desire, and not only will they embrace their role, they’ll take it upon themselves to help cultivate an enviable corporate culture.

Undertaking such an ambitious initiative is not without inherent risks. Often, employees with one foot out the door will recognize their time is now… elsewhere. Better to know now than after investing thousands of additional dollars into their employment. For others, it may require you to create a position that did not previously exist.

The rewards, however, are incalculable. Continuing to drive square pegs into round holes only results in pain and creates a morale epidemic that costs your organization dearly and is nearly impossible to combat. Conversely, tapping the blueprint that exists within each employee and encouraging her to pursue her natural wiring with strategic abandon will inevitably generate higher profits, increased productivity, and foster an atmosphere of creativity, discovery, and new product/service development.

Ultimately, the success of your company and its ability to impact not only those who share this lifetime with you now, but also those of lifetimes to come, requires you to make difficult decisions. While this process may be uncomfortable and perhaps counterintuitive, it’s the only way to create a world-class organization in today’s empowerment economy.

Remember, your primary role as CEO is to implement the missives of The Board Room while avoiding the creation of The Bored Room for those on the front lines. Help your employees discover their WHAT today.