Business: Do I need a Work Exposure Meter?

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Quiet Quitting is nothing new. It’s been a feature of most organisations for as long as I can remember. It simply involves doing what you’re contracted to do; nothing less and nothing more, and it’s a symptom of low employee engagement due to a lack of enjoyment in their work.

I first started to discover this concept when I came across an article about Performance Related Pay (PRP). I was totally committed to the concept of PRP and engaged with it wholeheartedly when I encountered it in my first job. However, the discussion in this article challenged my thinking on the topic.

The article put forward a case to say that there will always be around 15% of the workforce who are totally committed to their work, and they will be high performers, whatever remuneration they receive in their salary package. There are another 15% who will never be committed to their work, whatever encouragement they receive. Then there are those in the middle, some 70% of the workforce, who all believe that they are the highflyers and are demotivated by not being remunerated as a highflyer, and they would then become indifferent to their work, and some would quietly quit.

Now, whether the percentages are accurate or not, the point remains that there are varying degrees of commitment and performance that can be expected from your staff. In fact, when I was managing IT projects, it was often quoted that there can be a ten fold performance difference between a good programmer and a bad programmer and a ten fold difference for any one programmer from one day to the next. The maths suggests that there can therefore be a hundred fold difference between a good programmer on a good day and a bad programmer on a bad day. These ten fold multipliers may be subject to adjustment depending on the type of work, but the underlying difference in productivity is still enormously significant and worth paying attention to for any organisation.

The four day working week

The widely explored four day working week explores the idea of improving productivity at work by removing unproductive tasks, hoping to motivate people to be more focused and work harder in the remaining time and thus get 100% of planned output from 80% of the input. Well, why not just eliminate the unproductive tasks, find ways for your staff to be really engaged and enjoy their work 100% of the time, and thereby increase productivity by 25%, and often more?

Exposure Meter

Some years ago, my job involved making regular visits to various nuclear establishments around the UK. During this season, I was issued with a radiation exposure meter which would record the level of exposure I had to harmful radiation. This would be checked regularly to make sure that my exposure was kept below a nationally recognised threshold.

It seems that in today’s world our staff need to be issued with a work exposure meter to record the level of exposure they have to the harmful world of work. This would need to be checked regularly to keep their exposure below a nationally recognised threshold.

The key thought running through these models has to do with our work being something to be endured and something that needs to be kept below a recognised threshold to facilitate employee wellbeing and permit a decent work-life balance. Now consider another model. How about if we work on helping our staff enjoy the work they are employed to do?

How to find enjoyment in your work?

It seems that people care about the culture and mission of the organisation they’re going to work for, until they get a job. Then they care about the culture of the people they work with and the type of work they get to do in their job. That’s when the team leader becomes the most important person in the organisation, the person with the greatest ability to affect how much and how often people enjoy their work. It’s the team leader who holds the keys to increasing, or decreasing, employee engagement.

Types of work

First, there are your shortcomings, the things you dislike doing and find really draining, even if you’ve learned to be capable at doing them. They are your Achilles heel, or perhaps your Kryptonite.

Next come skills, and these are things that you can do well, but not all skills are created equal. We’ve all got some skills that are things we can do, and often we can do them well, but they’re not fulfilling. Using these skills will drain your energy quite quickly.

Then there’s your superpowers. A superpower is a skill that you really enjoy doing. It’s a natural ability and it brings you joy and fulfilment, and when you’re doing it, you feel like you’re in the flow. When you’re engaged in using your superpower it consistently gives you energy and you find that you could keep on going for longer even than the *Duracell bunny.

Enjoying your Work

Understanding the shortcomings, skills, and superpowers for every member of your team helps you understand what it is that they, and you, love doing. You can explore ways to help them avoid their shortcoming and use their superpowers so that their work exposure meter doesn’t become over-exposed. This results in raised levels of employee engagement for all our staff so we can all enjoy going about our work.

The key to increasing employee engagement is to make sure that everyone on our team is given the right tools, training, education, and encouragement so they can contribute using their superpower every day. Then they will feel valued and valuable at work, which inevitably increases employee engagement and productivity.

It’s the team leader who holds the key to doing that by understanding everyone’s superpowers and making sure they all get a chance to use them every day.

(*Energizer bunny in the US)

Main photo credit: Oleksandra Bardash via Unsplash

Roger Fairhead

Roger is a Leadership specialist and helps difference makers make a difference. Using the PRIZE Winning Leadership model he helps leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams through remote and in-person delivery of keynotes, group training and executive coaching sessions.
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