Are you engaged at work or simply putting in time?
There are a lot of people unfortunately who are putting in time; doing just enough to keep their jobs but not really adding much of value to the companies they work for or benefitting those who consume their products and services.
You could make an argument for some of those who just put in time. After all the world we work in is an increasingly over-structured and stressful place for many people. There’s so much going on in many people’s personal lives that the daily routine and structure in their workplace is a welcomed, reliable pace in their lives. They work, take a morning break, work until lunch, work again until the afternoon break, work until quitting time and then the chaos and variable evenings schedules kick in. One night it’s rushing one child to soccer and one to ballet, picking up dinner on the way and the next it’s adult basketball and swimming lessons; or is that Thursday nights schedule?
Yes there’s so much going on in the evening for many people and their families that work has become the one place that for 7 hours there’s a sense of predictability and stability throughout the day. With only so much energy, many employees are finding they are compromising their energy and creativity at work so they have enough to get through the evening. After spending some time in this new routine, it becomes their everyday routine. Employers and customers or clients may notice a drop in productivity, a lacking in new ideas and most certainly a lack of energy.
This is a dangerous precedent for anyone to set as it gets increasingly more difficult to kick things into high gear when needed, and one’s reputation can be negatively impacted if it’s believed your priorities are shifting in ways that pull you out of alignment with those of senior management.
And that’s the problem for a lot of people right there; employers have expectations of those they pay to work for them and employees themselves have competing demands on their time from family, friends and their personal expectations. When you’re expected to be full of energy and at your peak all day long at work and then again for the rest of the day after you’ve left work, something might have to give.
Wise, seasoned employees will attest that there are times when they know their going to be pulled in too many directions and drop the ball somewhere if they try to work too much beyond what they are capable of doing. They look ahead at their personal schedules and the demands for their full attention outside of work and size up their workloads for the corresponding period at work and make adjustments. They reallocate workloads and deadlines within their control to maximize the resources they can leverage so they aren’t caught off guard and find themselves overwhelmed.
For example, someone who knows they have some conferences coming up in rapid succession can reasonably forecast this will mean some time away from both work and family. Whatever they can do to get a jump on the work they’d normally do during those conferences when they won’t be in the office will ease the workload and the demands on their performance. An employee in this situation might also speak with a Supervisor or Manager and suggest some sharing of work or re-distribution of work in the interest of the overall performance of a team. This forward thinking and team mentally could be extremely appreciated by Management so that overall production remains constant and client/customer service levels remain stable.
Engaging yourself in your work, constantly focusing on the job at hand and meeting expectations is highly desirable. Now not everyone who works is invested in their work to the level employers would like. Some of us after all only work because we have to work to earn an income to support ourselves financially. Others of course work with enthusiasm because they find the work challenging, meaningful and by association they themselves see value in what they do and the impact they are having on the world around them.
There’s little hope I’m afraid for the employee who not only isn’t motivated to excel but also has no motivation to become a better worker. This is the person who is a danger to a business; the person does not add much to the organization but isn’t doing anything overtly that someone could point at to justify their removal. The result is an average employee who checks in everyday but has checked out mentally; this being a dangerous combination that introduces risk to the workplace.
The easy answer you may think is to either find a way to motivate the individual so they want to improve or to encourage the individual to search for meaningful employment elsewhere with sincerity in the process and both their and the companies best interests at heart. Not an easy thing to accomplish but it sure beats the status quo and doing nothing while the person becomes increasingly disengaged and the impact on the bottom line and customers is impacted with each interaction.
Do yourself a favour and if you see yourself disengaging from something you once loved doing, ask yourself what’s changed. What might get you reinvested in the work you do or does your future happiness perhaps need a restart elsewhere.