Are you happy at work? Do you find satisfaction in the way you spend your day? Is work-satisfaction something you even think about? Advisory services could be your answer.
Feeling a sense of satisfaction in our work is important. It underlies performance on a fundamental level. It’s so important that U.S. companies spend billions of dollars each year on programs to help their employees find happiness in the workplace—a market creatively called employee engagement.
What is employee engagement?
Gallup measures employee engagement by three factors:
- Your opportunity to do what you believe is best
- Having someone at work who encourages you
- Believing your opinions count
Gallup measures employee engagement in the U.S. yearly. Their latest poll results show engagement on the rise, but even so, only 34 percent of American workers were found to be engaged. The rest, 66 percent, were considered unengaged or worse, actively disengaged. How sad, when we consider the amount of our lives spent at work—and especially sad since the level of employee engagement directly correlates to the success of a business.
For me, happiness at work is fairly simple. I am happy at work when I feel I’ve contributed directly to the success of the company. Goal setting and meeting those goals is how I measure my happiness. You know that feeling of setting a goal, developing a plan, and then eventually reaching it? I love that feeling!
I also love collaboration and the result of a joint effort. The joy that comes from a collaborative process and the implementation of shared goals is bar none for me.
It makes sense, really. Human beings, unlike other species, are geared at a primordial level to feel what another person feels. Empathy. I have the ability to feel what you feel, therefore we are at our best when we are working together. It’s a common belief that competition is what drives progress, but there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that empathy is what really moves us ahead, by bringing people together.
Advisory services are special
Strategic Advising is the work of helping your clients plan their business goals, and achieve growth in their business. This work requires a high degree of listening, collaboration, and communication—all high engagement activities.
Strategic Advising can transform your practice with its high profitability and long customer retention. But the work can also fulfill and enrich your professional life because of its alignment with the key ingredients of employee satisfaction.
There are very few things more engaging than collaborating with a client on their business goals and helping them put plans in place to meet those goals. Empathy is important too—doing your best to feel what your clients feel on a monthly basis so that you can hear their problems and help them determine what adjustments to make to stay on course. You must feel connected to your client to be successful.
These key traits are not only Gallup’s Employee Satisfaction measure, but they are also fundamental to the work of Strategic Advising! Lucky you!
Try this exercise: Imagine you meet your own goals at work, and you help your clients meet their goals. And not only that, but your opinions count, you feel encouraged by others, and you have the freedom to do what you feel is best. Feels good, right?
Advisory services versus compliance-based services
Contrasting the work of advising with the more traditional compliance-based work of accounting like taxes and bookkeeping, it is striking how little the compliance-based work allows for the overriding factors of workplace happiness: collaboration and freedom in goal setting.
Compliance services are by definition about interpreting, applying, and reporting on predefined rules. They don’t have to do with collaboration or goal setting in the holistic sense. So, not only can these services be frustrating for you, they can strain your client relationship because they don’t allow for the collaboration that can connect you as an advisor.
Change the world!
Lucky for you, advising services are not only the place where you can be the happiest in your accounting work, but they are also the services projected to have the most growth in the industry in the foreseeable future.
I encourage you to take the time and mental space necessary to determine what will make you happy in your work. You owe it to yourself to ensure that all those hours spent each week are hours spent doing something you love.
And, as a bonus, advising services can actually change the world, because successful small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. You could actually have a direct impact on your community’s economic success—imagine how great that would feel!
You have worked hard on your professional development. You should be happy in your work. Go get it!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Kathy Gregory has over 20 years of experience in business development, including: financial forecasting, strategic planning, process development, project management, and mergers and acquisitions. She has worked in public and private, small to mid-size organizations doing business development, and strategic planning and implementation, working with executives, boards and their investors. At LivePlan Kathy runs the specialized program for Strategic Advisors. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon.