I find myself pondering the current state of the workplace, and I would like to know if you share the same concern. Amid the light-hearted banter and shared laughter on WhatsApp statuses, there’s a recurring Friday noon joke: “Time to shut those laptops.” Yet, I can’t help but question: Is this truly in jest – a light-hearted quip, or does it carry a deeper meaning?

There is a dichotomy that resonates with many souls currently. It juxtaposes two worlds: the joyous anticipation of weekends and the subtle resignation to the mundane realities of weekdays. Countless individuals yearn for the temporary liberation offered by those precious two days of respite when dreams can be indulged and passions set free. During this fleeting interlude, many find solace, praying away the pain of unfulfilled aspirations.

In South Africa, two remarkable voices, Msaki (real name Asanda Lusaseni Mvana) and Prince Kaybee (Kabelo Motsamai), joined forces to create a song that captures this ever so profoundly. Like an anthem echoing across the land, their song carries a poignant message that has stirred souls and sparked conversations. It speaks of the longing and yearning that so many individuals experience—a cry for liberation from the monotony and disillusionment that can overshadow our lives. 

We live for the weekend, working up the courage. We pray away, pray away, pray away the pain of not being in alignment with our dreams,” they sing as if encapsulating the collective sentiment of those who find solace in the temporary escape offered by the precious weekend.

What if we dared to imagine a world where the pendulum swings towards weekdays, where the passion and purpose that enliven our hearts and souls can flourish in the places where we spend most of our waking hours? 

I write this series of articles to respond to that unmistakable clarion call echoing through our workplaces. This series, aptly titled “We Live for Weekdays,” stands as a testament to the recognition that the workplace has the potential to be more than just a means to an end. It can be a space of inspiration, growth, and fulfilment, where creativity flourishes and a sense of purpose is woven into our daily endeavours.

In the first of these weekly articles, we ask the pivotal question: How can we transform our team members’ roles to be not just jobs but captivating adventures? Can I make my team’s jobs significantly more interesting than it currently is, even if I do not have the power to redesign them completely?

The answer lies in the venerable Job Characteristics Model, a framework developed by Hackman and Oldham. This model encapsulates five pivotal job characteristics, each possessing the potential to infuse roles with renewed energy, intrinsic motivation, and a profound sense of accomplishment. Here’s what you can do as a leader to make your team member’s jobs more exciting and make weekdays a little more tolerable or even amazing. 

  1. Skill Variety:
    • Job Rotation: Encourage cross-training and job rotation within your team. This allows employees to take on different tasks and responsibilities, preventing monotony and enhancing their skill variety. For instance, if you have team members focused solely on data analysis, give them opportunities to engage in customer interactions or project management tasks periodically.
  2. Task Identity:
    • End-to-End Projects: Assign projects that allow employees to see the entire process, from initiation to completion. This gives them a sense of ownership and connection to their work. For example, instead of just writing code for a software feature, assign them a task that involves designing, coding, testing, and deployment.
    • Task Clusters: Group related tasks together so employees can work on multiple components of a larger project. This enables them to experience the completion of meaningful chunks of work, fostering a sense of accomplishment.
  3. Task Significance:
    • Impact Awareness: Communicate the significance of each employee’s role in the larger organisational context. Help them understand how their contributions directly contribute to the company’s success. For instance, explain how their meticulous data analysis influences strategic decision-making.
    • Customer Interaction: Facilitate direct interactions with end-users or customers whenever possible. Connecting employees with the people who benefit from their work helps them see the real-world impact of what they do.
  4. Autonomy:
    • Empower Decision-Making: Delegate decision-making authority to your team members for certain aspects of their work. This empowers them to make choices and take ownership of their tasks. For example, allow them to choose the approach to solving a problem within specific guidelines.
    • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexibility in how and where work is done. Allowing employees to manage their own schedules and work environments enhances their sense of autonomy.
  5. Feedback:
    • Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and achievements. Provide constructive feedback and recognise their efforts. This ongoing dialogue ensures they receive timely input on their work and can make improvements.
    • Micro-Celebrations: Break down larger projects into smaller milestones and celebrate each. This keeps the team motivated and engaged throughout the project’s duration. It could involve a small treat, a virtual applause, or a brief moment of recognition during team check-ins.

As we embark on this journey to revitalise our workplaces, the Job Characteristics Model stands as a beacon, illuminating the path toward creating roles that evoke passion, fulfilment, and a renewed sense of purpose. In the following articles, we will explore other practical strategies, real-life examples, and actionable insights that leaders can employ to infuse their teams with vitality and transform their workplaces into inspiration hubs. 

Siphiwe Moyo

Organisational Behaviour Specialist

Speaker, Facilitator & Occasional MC