I’m sure that it would be no surprise to hear that many of us do not grow up to be working in the career we had dreamed of as a child. In fact, only one in ten Americans say they are working their ‘dream job’.
And so, naturally, employees may indulge in a ‘what if…’ moment. What if I’d stuck with that hobby? What if I’d studied that degree? What if I chose that path instead of this one? The list goes on. Employers may not think that this happens often, but a recent study actually found that only 6% of participants reported never or almost never thinking about other paths they could have taken – that leaves a whopping 94% of employees wondering about those ‘what ifs’.
That same study also discovered that 21% of workers reported thinking about these questions often or almost always. Those who were somewhat ‘stuck in the past’ were more likely to be distracted or daydream, took more breaks and days off, were less engaged, and were more likely to search for other jobs.
It is easy to fall victim to this spiral of thoughts, as nowadays most of us are constantly being confronted with choices. A recent survey found that there had been a significant rise in the ‘apply anyway’ trend, with three quarters (73%) of recruiters citing a lack of qualified applicants for roles as the biggest challenge in the hiring process. This highlights that employees have such ease and accessibility to new job choices – LinkedIn’s Easy Apply option is a great example of this – that it’s no wonder they find themselves wondering about paths untaken.
This can all have an effect on engagement levels, and so it is important for employers to know what they can be doing to challenge these feelings of ‘what if’ and help employees turn them into creative and innovative output:
It‘s natural to wonder from time to time about what could have been. And while harmless reflection is always a nice thing, those who find themselves getting stuck in the past may need a helping hand getting unstuck. If you would like to discuss how we can help improve your employee engagement levels by optimizing the wonderment of ‘what if’, please get in touch with us.