WORKER STORIES | WHAT WE HEARD
MEANING & PURPOSE:
MORE THAN A COG IN THE WHEEL
Almost all of the workers indicated they understood how their job directly contributed to the success of the business. This is in sharp contrast to a Gallup poll that found the majority of workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. Purpose and engagement in work can bolster one’s well-being and motivate workers to contribute positively to their organizations.
“I’ve grown with the business. When you’re young, you start stepping up and taking charge.... [Your] responsibilities grow. You want the best thing for you and the company. You kind of mature.”
Thirty-three-year-old Duke did not know he would stay in landscaping, but it was a welcome change after his first job out of high school working security. The small Denver-based landscaping company is a tight-knit, family-owned enterprise that has grown and diversified as the local economy has taken off in recent years.
During the 10 years Duke has been with the company, he has increased his wages, earned bonuses, received generous benefits (health insurance and a 401K), and been promoted to a supervisory role. He emphasizes that the success of the company is a group effort. Duke points to the office whiteboard displaying substantial monthly sales figures and is proud of his contribution to that success. With a self-described shy nature, he also said the job has helped him build his confidence by interacting with clients and managing others. With humble, self-assurance he announces, “I know I can rock any job now.”
“I see myself as a co-captain. Every business needs a co-captain, someone they can trust.”
Arturo, a former security guard educated as a computer technician, is finally putting this technical knowledge to work managing a new computer sales and repair shop in the Bronx. He describes the satisfaction and learning from getting this start-up off the ground. Although he is often on his own managing the shop, he thinks being a front man for the retail shop provides tangible opportunities for him and benefits the business owner as well. He is learning how to build a customer base, both online and with local walk-in clients, in addition to the administrative aspects of overseeing the shop. He hopes this hands-on knowledge will one day translate into knowing what it takes to run his own shop.
“I’ve dedicated a year to help get the business established.”
Jay, a 20-year-old cook at a bar and restaurant in Brooklyn, is working at his third start-up. He thrives on getting a new venture established and takes personal satisfaction in applying what he has learned working at other start-ups to this new business venture. Based on his experience, he implemented changes to the inventory system, and said he “loves the challenge of improving the systems in the kitchen.”
94% of workers understood how their job directly contributed to the business' success
On the surface, Josh and Jacob could not be more different. Josh is a Caucasian 23-year-old fashion brands manager; Jacob is a 58-year-old Jamaican immigrant helping operate a Jamaican food truck. Both share a passion for small business, and choose to work in one because it is consistent with their personal values. Jacob has witnessed the positive role small businesses can play in low-income minority neighborhoods. He views the extra effort he puts into the venture as an investment in the business because he knows that once the business is established it “will help not just me, but a lot of people.” For Josh, small businesses are consistent with how he wants to live his life: working in a place where “the needs of employees come first” and the business “betters a group of people, not just one person like a large corporation does.” Josh and Jacob both view small businesses as important to improving their local communities.
94% of workers understood how their job
directly contributed to the success of the business