How Would Your Employees Answer the Question: “How Was Work?”


“If all the people leave the building there is no organization left in it. The organization is the people, their relationships, their motivations, their energies, their values, their aspirations or lack of them. It’s a living breathing thing. A successful organization is one that reciprocates with its environment and one that helps to enrich the environment upon which it depends. When that relationship is broken the organism dies.”  – Sir Ken Robinson

On a typical day, how do you think your employees would answer the question: “How was work?” Be honest. I think the answer would reveal some things about your company culture. Now…how do you WANT your employees to answer the question: “How was work? I think your response here would start a conversation about the type of culture you want.


What if we based our goals around company culture on that one question? You probably get asked this question on a regular basis. Perhaps even daily. It’s as routine as “How are you?” or “Good morning.” The answer can go either way depending on the situation. It could be good, bad, or neutral. A series of recent events led me to wonder about the prevalence of this question and about its relation to company culture. Below is one of the events that sparked these thoughts.


A Conversation with My Stepdad, Max.

“Hi Shida. I was calling to see how your first day at work was. Mine was FANTASTIC.” My stepdad left this message for me on the evening of October 28. We both started a new job on this same day. We were both excited about our new opportunities and spent the week before getting ready in our own way. For me, that meant getting my car fixed, doing some reading, and getting lots of rest. For him it meant getting his work-related supplies organized, getting a haircut and also getting rest. The night before our first day we checked in with each other. Coincidentally, we’d both signed up to arrive at 7:30 a.m. So by the 9 o’clock hour on the night before, we were preparing for sleep.


On the evening of October 28, he called to see how my first day was. His was FANTASTIC. And over the past couple of weeks we’ve continued the check-ins. It was pretty coincidental that we’d resigned around the same time, had some time off in between, and started on the same day. These events have made each of us a little more interested in the others situation. Others have been interested in my new adventures, too. During my first two weeks on the job, friends and fam called every day. The words they spoke were: “How was work today?” But the tone of their voices said: “Do you really like your new job? We really hope you do because we’d hate for you to have made a bad decision so…you like it for real?”


I’ve started new jobs before, and each time my loved ones focused on something different. This time around they have been really focused on my contentment – with the office environment, with my team and with the work. The last time around they were concerned about whether or not I could learn from the position. And rewind back to 2007, they were all just happy I’d found a J.O.B. Regardless of the situation though, their probing usually begins with a “How was work?”


Keep in mind that this is probably the case with many of your employees, too. So as you continuously muse on your workplace culture, consider that you might be able to cut your meetings on the topic in half by starting with the one question that touches just about everyone: HOW. WAS. WORK?” Once you figure out how you’d want your employees to answer that question you’re halfway there.


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