“I’m an environmental feminist. That’s me, I don’t shy away from that label at all.”
The words of Lisa Whited, author of Work Better. Save The Planet, and my guest today on Inside Ideas. A straight talker, Lisa argues that job titles, and more specifically the uninspiring nature of the roles themselves, are forcing too many people to shy away from meaningful engagement with large parts of their day-to-day lives.
“Gallup has been measuring people’s engagement with work for more than 20 years and the statistic has barely wavered, from 87% globally being disengaged in their work, to 80%, the needle has hardly moved,” she says.
Whited welcomes the fact there is now more of a focus on the “mental and psychological safety aspects of work that have been ignored” for too long, which she says is a real opportunity.
“Doesn’t it drive you crazy to think so many people are not engaged in their work? I mean we spend more time working than sleeping in our lifetime, we have one life and so many people are spending a huge amount of it miserable.”
Which she says has a devastating “ripple effect” that can infect every aspect of life.
“It’s not just about the work you do but it is how does that make you feel when you come home to your family? What’s the impact on your partner or the kids if you are not really feeling engaged? And then how does that ripple effect into your neighbourhood, your community?”
It is because “work is such an essential part of our life and existence” that Whited, the founder and chief transformation officer of Workplace Transformation Facilitation, wants it to become a source of renewal.
“Can you imagine leaving work and feeling awesome because you had such a great experience, your interactions with your colleagues, you felt like you were of service, you made a difference, you were working with your strengths – I mean wow. Instead of depletion you get renewal.”
To achieve this, she says a “one-size-fits-all approach” to work should be ditched for models that are more flexible and aligned with the needs of people.
“You give people what they need, give them the space, the materials, the equipment – what they need – and then let them configure to how it best supports their way of working.”
In a moment when the workplace is literally transforming before our eyes, the ideas espoused by Whited, who serves as a senior associate to Advanced Workplace Associates, a global change management consultancy based in the UK, could not be more timely. So I am delighted to welcome her on to the show to talk about her book and a topic that so captures the zeitgeist of the modern world of work.