There is an epidemic of exhaustion. Wherever you look, people are tired, fatigued, worn out and struggling to motivate themselves in a life that seems devoid of meaning. No wonder that anti-depressant prescriptions are at an all-time high and people are stressed. If you could find a fix for this it would be a sure-fire employee engagement idea…
The missing meaning of life
There’s a sense that something is missing in life – hence the current saying ‘meaning is the new money’ – and a nostalgic feeling that life must have been better in the old days.
But it turns out that this problem is not actually down to the way we live now – pressure, electronic devices and a sedentary existence – in fact there has probably always been a problem with exhaustion. In the middle ages it was thought to be a moral failing caused by lack of willpower – but now we have a better idea what makes people active and motivated, and that means we can do something about it.
The key to people’s motivation is…
There its no puzzle about what motivates people – just look at their private lives and you will see all your staff putting in a lot of unpaid effort: community groups, child raising, football and cricket, choirs and so on. We’re just wired to do things that are interesting, useful, and helpful to others of our species, especially within our own social groups.
Build a workplace that emulates those conditions and motivation would not be an issue. In practice no company is quite like that, but some get close, and that’s where you’ll find sustainably eager and engaged employees.
Even there, no-one will give 110% all day every day – that’s an enticing idea but is unsustainable and will lead to tragedy for some staff. Some will cope, but become demoralised presentees, others will take more duvet days, but some will collapse, go off with stress or leave.
Finding the sweet spot
Somewhere between boredom on one hand and exhaustion on the other there is a sweet spot, an exhilarating place where people are working just right. Stretched? Yes. Stressed? No. What would their lives look like?
Well, they would have a clear, unambiguous picture of what they were supposed to be doing and why. They’d be sharing that picture closely with those around them, engaged in a social structure that enables people to help and share. They’d have all the knowledge and skills they need, plus all the equipment needed to do the job. They’d be acknowledged for what they contribute, be free from excess anxiety about the work, have autonomy and time to think, and would go home at the day feeling they had done something that mattered and done it well.
Working life can’t be like that all the time, but to the degree it is, it will work well.
The problem is, how do you know which of your staff are getting that kind of experience and who is getting something else? How much of the time? And when it’s something else, why, and what needs doing to make it better?
A pulse survey won’t tell you that, and neither will an old-style engagement survey. But WeThrive will, bringing clarity and focus to people management.
Try WeThrive today, free. It takes very little time to set up and I promise it will tell you things you need to know. How’s that for an employee engagement idea?