When Laura Gassner Otting was working as an executive recruiter, she had a revelation: success does not always equal happiness. Over time, she’s come to see that the people who are happiest in their jobs have achieved what she calls “consonance.”

“It’s people who have carved their own path, who have figured out, ‘This is the one that I really want to do,’” she says.

But getting to a place of consonance requires rethinking how we approach employee engagement. So we sat down with Gassner Otting to discuss the relationship between employee engagement and career satisfaction. Her new book, “Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life” is a great place to start.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Stats Behind Engagement

It’s a no-brainer to say that employe engagement is important. If your employees aren’t engaged … well, you might not have a company after a while.

The reality is that engagement is a serious crisis in the workplace. “There was a Gallup study that was done a few years ago that said that only one-third of U.S. workers are engaged in their work,” Gassner Otting says. Statistics further bear out that engaged workers are 22 percent more effective for the companies they work for — hence, the need to devote organizational resources to engagement.

However, Gassner Otting reminds us that there is no magic formula to engagement — not even for the same employee. Our identities do not remain static over time. As we get older, we change, and we prioritize different things. We get married, have kids, and sometimes throw a bit too much of our savings account into a grab bag of mid-life crisis hobbies.

Managers must ensure they are getting to know each employee on an individual level. Creating these relationships is essential to knowing what a person cares about individually, engaging them to do their best work, and helping employees find consonance.

The Four C’s

Consonance is almost a feeling of zen with one’s work — what Gassner Otting calls “being in this frictionless sense of belonging.”

Achieving consonance is not as difficult as it might sound. Gassner Otting has created a framework that breaks down consonance into four categories. “They all very conveniently start with C,” she jokes.

  • Calling
      Calling is your sense of purpose — what drives you. “It can be a family that you want to raise,” says Gassner Otting. “It can be a societal ill that you want to solve.” People all have different callings, she explains, but we do have one thing in common: “We all have that thing.”
  • Connection
    • “Connection is really the answer to the question of ‘Why do I matter? Why does my work matter?’ ” she says. Find your place in your company’s organizational chart, and understand why you matter.
  • Contribution
    • “While connection is all about the work, contribution is really about you, individually,” Gassner Otting explains. Figure out how you want your work to contribute to your community and the values you want to manifest with it.
  • Control
      Control is the act of self-assertion — finding out how much control you need over the other three C’s to achieve your personal idea of success and happiness. “For each one of us, that’s going to be very different,” she says.

Engage Yourself!

None of us can depend on our managers to keep us engaged. It’s also our responsibility to check in with ourselves and assess our satisfaction with our work life.

That’s why Gassner Otting has created a quiz exclusively for #WorkTrends listeners. It only takes ten or fifteen minutes, and the quiz will help you think about what work means to you — and if your career is fulfilling you on a level that goes beyond the direct deposits into your bank account.

Best of all? At the end of the quiz, you’ll receive feedback on how you can bring consonance to your own life.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode of WorkTrends is supported by the CHRO Exchange, an exclusive networking event for HR executives and thought-leaders. Share insights, benchmark strategies, and learn from the Heads of HR at Walmart, Verizon, the Atlanta Braves, and more, all at the 11th CHRO Exchange taking place in Austin, Texas. May 19 through the 21. Reserve your spot and learn more here.

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