I’m not sure if it’s biologically accurate, but there’s an old saying that goldfish grow to the size of the tank it lives in. The larger the tank, the larger the goldfish. The question is how big of tank are you offering yourself as an executive, an entrepreneur and a leader? What about your employees’ tank? Is there room to grow? Expand? Explore?

Given that the average person spends over 90,000 hours of their life at work (which is over a third of the average lifespan) it’s important to make sure we are all in the right “tank.”

With Labor Day upon us, it’s a great time to reflect on our own Labor environment. Labor Day was created as a way to honor the social and economic achievements of the workforce and can be great to not only recognize your team’s hard work, but it can be an important time to check-in with your own role in your business: what’s going well, are you on target to reach your goals and how can you finish the last quarter strong, is your team the right fit, and are their areas you or your team can upskill?

Current Employment Landscape

The landscape of the American workforce has changed dramatically in the past two decades. With unemployment rates at less than 4% nationwide and 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day the market is competitive to find and keep great talent. Add to the mix that over 34% of the workforce are now 1099/Contract employees (and growing) this is the ideal time to consider how you are leading your team and yourself. More than ever this is a time for companies to consider their value proposition to not only their clients but to their employees.

So how do companies compete for employees? Salary and benefits are still hot topics for hiring, it’s often the company culture and leadership that keeps the talent. While most top talent will leave a manager, not the job, likewise, many employees leave companies if their values don’t align.

How can you do more to find and keep the right team? Here are a few tips:

  • Do you know what your employees really want? What drives them? And how do you know? Is there a mechanism in place that can help collect and implement employees’ values and motivators? Andy Stanely, a leadership expert, says “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say” and studies support that employees rarely want more money (over other factors). In fact, in a study of over 32,000 participants For men, the financial reward was eighth on the list; for women, 15th.

Do you regularly check-in with yourself to make sure your role is in alignment with your values? What about your team?

Other than money what do employees want? Here are some common requests:

  • Fewer Meetings: can you streamline your meetings, make them more efficient? Some companies have standing meetings to keep everyone alert and on task. Can some meetings be moved to emails or a project management tool like Trello or Asana? Personally, are you wasting time scheduling a meeting that could be a quick phone call?
  • Less importance on facetime: The old employment model of working 8 to 5 every day is no longer valid. Focus on what your employees are achieving not how long they stayed at their desk. Consider Power Paddle Boards that moved their employees to a 5-hour workday and saw a huge increase in sales and profit. Are you rewarding “time” at work or focus and deliverables? Consider the same for yourself. Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” which means if you restrict your time you may get more completed!
  • More personal and professional development. Often the difference between a good employee and a great one is that great ones want to keep learning and companies should support that. In fact, 87% of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job. Consider offering time off or subsidies for “passion” projects as well. 6 million Americans reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor that they choose part-time work over full-time work, so they can pursue their passions as well as their careers. Imagine how dedicated an employee would be if you paid for her art class? Having other interests, and passions lead to a more balanced employee and increased innovation. Does your company offer opportunities for more learning and growth? Do you pursue interests outside of work? Music? Animals? Photography? Believe it or not, pursuing your interests will make you more effective (and happy) at work too.
  • Pet-Friendly Work Environment. There is a multitude of studies outlining the benefits to both physical and revenue health of pet-owners. See the full outline here as well as tips on how to integrate a pet-policy at your office: Do you have or have you considered a pet-friendly work environment? Do you have a pet?
  • Time to Exercise. The evidence is clear on the mental and physical benefits of exercise and a healthy and happy employee will always perform better. 45 percent of employees who are offered on-site fitness facility access choose to participate and report the highest satisfaction with them largely due to their convenience, inviting environment and low or no membership cost. Do you place a value on exercise as an executive for you and your team?
  • Flex schedule or Remote Work Options. Much like reducing a focus on “facetime” there are ways to cater to employees schedule which can benefit family schedules and also optimize what time of day an employee is most efficient. Flex schedules such as 6am-3pm or 4×10 hour days can be expanded to letting employees create a schedule that works best for them. The added bonus is employees often work more when they aren’t forced to work but because they want to-and employees want to work for bosses that support them. Check out these 6 high tech companies in Colorado that all offer flex schedules for some ideas on ways you can create a flex schedule and perks for your team
  • Community Involvement. Does your company support a charity or cause? Is there a way for employees to get more involved? Paid day off to volunteer? Charitable causes help connect with your employees and clients in a deeper way and studies show that people are more likely to do business with a company that shares their own beliefs.
  • Family Friendly. Is your company family friendly? What if someone has a baby or a teacher work day-how does your company handle those scenarios? Do you allow job sharing, or flexible start times for parents? What about an on-site daycare? How can your employee show up for work if they don’t have care for their children? How can you make it easier? Is family one of the values of your work life?


Studies have shown that you are 61% more likely to do a task if it’s fun-what a simple concept to increase participation and motivation. Here are some ways to add a bit more play into your workday

  • Host a workshop at your organization on a new topic or company culture
  • Take a 2-hour class on a new topic. This could be a painting class or a professional development class
  • Add more movement to your day. Can you take your next meeting on a walk?
  • Bring your pet to work day
  • Take meditation breaks
  • Play a game, start a meeting with a funny clip, find ways to laugh and connect

Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” and for many of us are days are spent working. It’s worth spending (at least) every Labor Day to evaluate if you and your team are in a tank big enough to grow like a goldfish.

What are you going to do this week to evaluate your business/career path? How are you going to make Labor time more it more fun for you and your employees? Send us your stories to [email protected]

(by the way, have you taken our 2 minutes quiz to identify which areas of your business you should focus on next? Visit www.mybusinessquiz.com and learn more about the work we do with business leaders and teams here: www.NextLevelCoachConsult.com)

Originally published at nextlevelcoachconsult.com


  • Carrie D. Clarke, JD, ACC


    Carrie D. Clarke, J.D. is a Strategy Coach and Small Business Consultant helping individuals and entrepreneurs reach the NEXT LEVEL. Combining a background as an Attorney, M&A Risk Advisor, and International Management Consultant, Carrie has a unique and integrated approach to helping executive leaders, business owners, and high-achievers reach their goals and grow profits. Carrie is a regular contributor to Thrive Global, a Huffington Post publication, holds a certification from The International Coach's Federation (ICF) and is Certified Consultant with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Carrie is passionate about brain-science, strategic tactics, mindset and combining the three. Carrie grew up in Colorado and has lived in New Zealand, Guatemala, England and now back in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and two daughters. Learn more at www.nextlevelcoachconsult.com