“I have decided that this is the year I am getting married,” declared Charlotte York on the HBO series Sex and the City. Desperate to be a wife, Charlotte found solace within a fictitious book called Marriage, Incorporated: How to Apply Successful Business Strategies to Finding a Husband. In it, she learned that she shouldn’t be spending so much time with her “dysfunctional single women” friends, but, instead, she should spend time with her married friends. Bachelor friends of married men were New York’s “best untapped resource,” per Charlotte. In other words, Charlotte sought nontraditional means to find her perfect “candidate” essentially, taking the law into her own hands to find her soul mate. Related: What Shopping Habits Say About A Job Seeker What does this mean when it comes to finding a job? Competition is fierce. In particular, people who have a more “generic” skill set (i.e., a liberal arts background and little specialized skills) have a difficult time differentiating themselves. They have to get creative, like Charlotte from Sex and the City. A recent blog post from the Wall Street Journal entitled “Have Liberal Arts Degree, Will Code” points out that liberal arts majors are turning “techie” by developing coding skills. One Duke University English and Theater studies grad found herself with a new career that earned $20,000 more per year after acquiring frontend web development skills. It’s not a foreign concept to marry the liberal arts with technology. Apple cofounder, the late Steve Jobs, once stated in a 1996 NPR interview that “[I] think our major contribution [to computing] was in bringing a liberal arts point of view to the use of computers. If you really look at the ease of use of the Macintosh, the driving motivation behind that was to bring not only ease of use to people … but it was to bring beautiful fonts and typography to people, it was to bring graphics to people... so that they could see beautiful photographs, or pictures, or artwork, et cetera... to help them communicate." So what are some technical careers that can be enjoyed by people with liberal arts degrees? “Technical” careers are broad these days. For example, my sister works for Wells Fargo. They are such a huge company that their Human Resources department has its own marketing communications team. She helps build and push out HRrelated content to their company Intranet. Some HTML she learned as a hobbyist back in 1996, when she was an undergrad majoring in Sociology, gave her the foundation to understand tools such as Dreamweaver and MS SharePoint. She has no formal tech training; just a passion to learn and adapt to new technology quickly. The point here is to take control of your career. There are skills in high demand out there, and you don’t have to have a Computer Science degree from Stanford to acquire them. Channel your inner Charlotte York: declare that this is the year you will find your dream job, and make it happen (just don’t break too many hearts along the way…).
It’s a fact of life: we all get frustrated at work. Even in your dream job, you will have a bad day here and there. My CEO had to remind me once that “[we] are all human beings.” We sometimes get so caught up in our roles in the company that we forget that small element. When it comes to employee engagement, could it be that simple? When I was a Yahoo! employee from late 2000 to 2002, I bled purple and yellow. I didn’t just work at Yahoo!; it was a lifestyle for me. I found a workplace where I could be myself: I could have a life-sized cutout of Luke Skywalker in my cubicle, and no one would give it a second thought. My needs were met in my role as a Customer Care Tech for Yahoo! GeoCities (remember that service!?). I felt so proud to be part of a well-known brand with a bright future at the time. Abraham Maslow was a brilliant American psychologist best known for developing the “Hierarchy of Needs.” In the hierarchy, there were five levels of needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. The workplace can foster all of these needs; however, belonging and esteem are two particular areas that affect employee engagement. Belonging is a need that can be satisfied with a solid team environment; a company culture that is inviting, warm, friendly and supportive. The esteem need is the feeling of importance. Fostering an environment that encourages creativity and, in turn, rewards people for hard work and accomplishments satisfies this need. For example, Kellogg’s Corporation operates weekly group “huddles” to communicate news, sales milestones and achievements openly to encourage community. Sue Platt, HR director at Kellogg’s stated: “Here at Kellogg's listening is a central premise of the way we work. We believe that our employees have some of the best ideas and that a successful company is one that listens to the grassroots feedback and acts on it. Any employee can raise an issue or a suggestion via their rep who will raise it at one of their monthly meetings.” Let’s look at five things your company can do today to foster employee engagement.