Have you ever battled one of those seasonal colds that seems to set in just as the quarter changes? The kind that start out innocuously and, within a day or two, take over your body are the worst. With a stopped-up head, compounded by the medicine-induced slowdown of brain activity, perhaps a headache…you simply feel immobilized. Try as one might, even simple tasks require Herculean effort. Truly demanding focus–be it mental, emotional, or physical–wears out and leaves us exhausted.
In business settings, we can experience the onset of lethargy similar to the seasonal cold in cycles not unlike the changing of the seasons. Consider: when you finish your busiest season of the year, the week or so following can be extremely slow and unproductive; or a project comes to a close and your team is worn out; or your work group has just added a lot of new staff and some of your job is now done by others. While all of these situations seem to describe events that lead to a lack of work, what else can lead to job boredom?
Underemployment is a huge contributor to work environments in which employees (and management!) is under-motivated. How does this occur? Usually, when we take a position with an organization, we agree to a certain job description, rate of compensation and benefits package. However, we rarely talk about the career path, opportunity for advancement, and milestones that trigger promotion. If these items are discussed, they are discussed on the front end briefly because we read that we should. How can we keep the topic matter “front and center” throughout our relationship with an employer?
Much of it boils down to culture. Does your organization have intentionality/purposefulness about its culture? Is it “tuned in” to the needs of its employees, or only looking out for shareholder interests? While financial and accounting textbooks encourage us to only think about the “bottom line,” we all know that boring workplaces can be a downer and that culturally blase organizations lose talent, customers, and market share in the long term.
Either join a group that has a culture that values the employee, or be a change agent to help it become such! Speak with your supervisor, HR contact, etc about ideas that you have to enhance employee engagement. It has been our experience that, in many cases, executives have not only heard about progressive corporate cultures within their industry, but would like to have a reason to begin migrating in that direction. Keep in mind–“baby steps” are still walking! Perhaps you will be asked to join or facilitate an employee group to explore ways to make your office a better place to work. If so, you can escape the lethargy and begin to enjoy your avocation. Congrats to all who dare to embark on the journey from “medicine head” to lucidity!