"What do you do?"
I’ve probably been asked that question at least 1,000 times—and you probably have, too. Whether you’re at a cocktail party, soccer practice, a work conference or a large family gathering, a common (and constant) way to break the ice with new people is to ask and answer, “What do you do?”
In many ways, it’s how we define one another as individuals and professionals. It gives us a sense of purpose, meaning, and value.
Since we’re asked so often, many of us have a canned elevator speech down pat, myself included. To date, my answers almost always focus on the things that I physically do (work with computers, build websites, work at Benz Communications, manage teams, etc.) and are tailored to the person asking the question. I rarely frame my answer in a way that highlights the impact or outcomes of my work effort. It’s easy to get caught up in what we do instead of focusing on what we’re accomplishing or the impact we’re making on individual’s lives.
However, it’s our impact that’s more meaningful—to others’ lives and our own. Feeling like we’re making a difference and that our work matters has a high correlation to job satisfaction and overall well-being. Research shows that people who are highly satisfied in their jobs have lower stress levels, injury rates and mental health problems than people who are dissatisfied and disengaged.
As we focus on employee well-being this month, ask yourself how your personal well-being affects your work, and vice versa:
- Do I get up most mornings looking forward to what I’ll do at work today?
- Do my coworkers inspire me to bring my best self to work, and vice versa?
- Am I proud to talk about my work with loved ones—or even strangers?
- Do I get frequent affirmation that what I do matters?
As an answer to that last question, focus groups with employees and the write-in comments on our websites are a great way for me to measure our daily impact with real people.
That’s when I read or hear comments like these:
“This is really good information when someone is new in handling a medical emergency.”
“This is by far the best, easiest explanation of ESPP I’ve seen. THANK YOU!”
“I appreciate you customizing the recommendations based on our stage in life. I feel it is so much more relevant to me. Thank you.”
“I was not aware of this benefit and it is one that could allow me to work on those peak times where I need to work more without having to worry about the care for my mother. Thank you!”
“Thanks for the easy-to-read and user-friendly site. I’m about to begin the onboarding process as an instructional designer, and navigating information about insurance was simple.”
In those moments, I’m reminded of how everything we do aims to inspire people to live better. Don’t get me wrong—it is great to see results like clients getting 62% enrollment in an HSA plan and seeing impressive utilization statistics like 5.8 million combined page views to the client sites we’ve built. What really makes me smile, though, is the way we touch individual lives on a daily basis.
So, what do you do?