Employee Engagement Training Activities should Emphasis a Growth Mindset
Surveys consistently show that 70 per cent of employees are disengaged in their work. There is a couple of things I want to say about that.
- First, most employee engagement strategies are designed to extrinsically engage people in their work. Yet the answer in my view lies with the work itself. Rather than the external stimuli we try to use to engage people in their work, perhaps the work itself hold the key?
- Second, there is not enough emphasis of the employee and their responsibility to find the work they do engaging.
- Third, we need to stimulate a growth mindset to work, rather than a fixed mindset. These factors are important if we are to improve on the current engagement rates of 30 per cent.
External Employee Engagement Strategies
The majority of employee engagement strategies are focused on stimulating employees extrinsically. What I mean by this is that we use incentives like more pay, recognition, and better working conditions to try to stimulate the engagement levels of employees.
But this misses the mark. It is the work itself that needs to be considered, not the external stimuli managers use.
Employee Engagement Strategies should Focus on the Work
We have managed to dumb down work. In our quest to standardize work, we have broken work into overly structured activities and removed the need for autonomy, creativity, and initiative. Work is paint by numbers exercise and that requires no original thought.
This is a product and handover from Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management from the early 20th century. We have codified, homogenized, quantified, and segmented work into simple, easy to follow structures.
Work has become like a flat pack we purchase from IKEA. The instructions are inside the box and we are just required to follow the procedure to the letter to get the job done.
What we need is employee engagement training activities that emphasis personal agency and autonomy and getting employees to start thinking for themselves.
Currently, employees can afford to leave their brains at the doorway in a paper bag when they arrive at work. They can just go through the motions.
The question is how can we redesign work to make it more interesting and stimulating?
David Graeber wrote an interesting book called, “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory”. He claims that many of the jobs of today lack stimulation and add zero value to the world. Graeber categorizes bullshit jobs as: flunkies, goons, duct tapers, box tickers, and taskmasters.
For example, when referring to box tickers, he asserts: “The term refers to employees who exist only to allow an organization to be able to claim it is doing something that, in fact, it isn’t.” It is highly unlikely that we will stimulate the hearts and minds of employees with work that is boring and meaningless.
In all of the chatter about how we engage the people that work for us, very little, if anything, is raised about the onus of responsibility on the employee to find their work meaningful.
Consider this for a moment: On average, most of us spend a third of our adult life in work. That’s a considerable amount of time. It’s even more stark when you consider that most of us spend this time, disengaged.
That’s a lot of our lives spend disengaged or even disenchanted. I don’t know about you, but I have made the decision not to allow that to happen to me. I have decided to be engaged, or at least find work that is engaging. Why? Because it’s my life and I don’t want to waste it!
Surely, if we are considering employee engagement strategies, we ought to consider the employee and his or her responsibility in all this, don’t you think?
Adopting this sort of attitude is what Carol Dweck refers to as the “Growth Mindset” as distinct from the fixed mindset. The growth mindset is about being is a perpetual state of learning, growth and stimulation.
Most people, it seems from the surveys, have a fixed mindset when it comes to their work. Employee engagement training activities need to teach people the value of having a growth mindset for all things, but particularly to their work.