People are not tasksor robots. I’m still surprised when I meet people in the workplace who don’t believe that people are the most important part of their jobs. Sadly, the people are a means to my end meme still dominates. Granted, many people are disengaged, burnt out and disempowered – and can’t summon up the energy to deal with diverse personalities and needs andintense organizational pressures and demands.
Most of the business world is still organized on the principle that a job is essentially an economic transaction. Workers are being asked to do more with less –and faster than ever before. Employee head count is down and the bar for performance set higher. And managers still don’t seem to understand how to establish a workplace environment that view workers as people. An over reliance on the rational (we’re here to work!) and on emotions that don’t feed the human spirit (anxiety, mistrust, resentment, frustration) all contribute to the sense of exhaustion and disillusionment that many employees feel. Continue reading →
Employee engagement continues to be a critical factor in moving employees to “go the extra mile” in terms of their work effort. However, studies suggest that businesses seem to have a chronic problem in their ability to maintain engagement over time.
Gallup and other polling has shown consistent engagement ratings that hover around 30% among full-time American workers. In other words, engaged – and 70% of all U.S. workers are not reaching their full potential. According to multiple studies, one significant causal factor for employee disengagement is that employee’s hearts are not into their work. This translates into workers “checking out,” mentally and emotionally, doing the bare minimal to stay in their jobs but offering little initiative or involvement.
This goes to the essence of engagement – “Employees are engaged only to the extent that they are emotionally available to be so,” which ties directly to their willingness to go the extra mile for their company. This may seem obvious, but it is not—at least not to managers who are still focused on conventional managerial tactics as the solution in their attempt to create engagement. Traditional managers tend to apply pressure when they perceive disengagement, ignoring the reality of emotions and their effect on people’s abilities to be engaged.
Depending on the emotions that are triggered at work, employees will either be less available or more available to be fully engaged in their work. The feelings themselves determine the path that will be taken. Emotions are always present…and until the emotional component is addressed, employees cannot fully engage. This is the major missing link in many efforts to engage or re-engage workers. Too many organizations and managers still go to the old employee perks goody bag to solve long-term problems with questionable short-term solutions. This is not to say that these incentives are wholly ineffective, but without substantive changes in employee relationships and cultural environment, they offer little more than temporary distraction from deeper problems.
So, here’s how it went. After sitting in my car, waiting in the queue for twenty minutes, my nine-year-old grandson enters the car with a big smile on his face, happy to see me. How was school today, I ask? ‘Good,” he says, and then digs into his backpack to retrieve his school issued iPad. On our drive to get ice cream, answers to my questions about his day were mumbled or unanswered. The lure of the iPad was too great a competitor! I felt frustrated in my desire to create a “quality” moment with Ethan.
I love Ethan very much and I know how much he loves me. I was okay with the silence. The experience, however, left me thinking about the many challenges of full-time parenting (after all, as a grandfather I have a lot of breathing room). It also got me thinking about the many moments parents have to convert frustration (or any other emotion that may be non-productive) into opportunities to help their children to grow into caring, empathetic, loving, responsible and capable adults.
I thought about Daniel Siegel’s description of mental health and well-being – that mental health is associated with the integration of the body with different regions of the brain and relationships. . And, how could that notion of mental health and neuroscience be applied to parenting and shaping the unfolding growth of children and maximizing their mental health. Continue reading →