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Checking Out at Work, An American Tradition?

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Almost everybody who wants to be working in America has a job. But study after study shows that mostly, we are checked out at work. What’s up with employee engagement?

This topic is covered in an entertaining New York Times blog post. Timothy Egan notes:

Among the 100 million people in this country who hold full-time jobs, about 70 percent of them either hate going to work or have mentally checked out to the point of costing their companies money — “roaming the halls spreading discontent,” as Gallup reported.

At first glance, this sad survey is further proof of two truisms. One, the timeless line from Thoreau that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The other, less known, came from Homer Simpson by way of fatherly advice, after being asked about a labor dispute by his daughter Lisa. “If you don’t like your job,” he said, “you don’t strike, you just go in there every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”

Employee Engagement - Bored at Work

© Flickr user danoxster

Egan’s piece doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions, besides paying people more. But his aside that a lack of employee engagement is a sort of national tradition is telling indeed. Most everyone in this country is used to this, as well-described in this clip from The Drew Carey Show:

What’s the message? Be different.

If you’re part of the 30% that’s engaged in your work, you are different. Pay attention to what is going right and make it happen for those around you. Figure out why you have the sense of passion and share that with the world.

If you’re part if the 70% that isn’t engaged, fix it. Talk to your boss. Work with a consulting team. And if it makes sense, quit.

Employers who are interested in making work engaging have a tremendous competitive advantage. The best employees want to have some kind of meaning at work. You can attract them from other firms and drive away those who don’t care.

Let’s change the American tradition. Let’s make work engaging, and make the experience of working truly worthwhile.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
@lorraineball First probably depends on the business. But second is likely training, especially with regard to sales. - 4 weeks ago
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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