You are walking in the streets of Nairobi Kenya when you pump into an old acquaintance of yours and as you go through the paces of greetings, he inquires very quickly and effortlessly thus, “Are you still in the same place? Are you still at that same workplace? If you are, then you must be very senior. Is it thirty years’ service you have done?” If you are quick at getting annoyed, you then lose out because the person inquiring is doing it unconsciously without knowing of the effect his words are causing you. This then carries us to ask related questions; how long is long in the same place? Should we have a higher mark of the duration you can serve with one employer? Or better still, how long should you be in employment? Methinks, there should be a maximum period to serve in employment and I recommend a maxima of ten years after joining the world of work. Think like this, where would there be work for the millennials currently if all of us worked to the retirement age spelt out in a government notice? There are very many graduates with the name Millenials being churned out into the labour market.
The millennials don’t want to report at 8.00 a.m., in the morning but would prefer some flexi time and not working on rigid timelines. The wise people prefer using parables, like, if you tie a cow on a leash and leave enough rope for it to grace around a tree or a peg hole, it will consume all that is within its space, attend to the call of nature in the same spot, continue digging in and if overwhelmed and both sides facing the dug hole give in, and be conveniently buried promptly. The same analogy applies to the worker, the employee who continues working and not necessarily being productive but anyway running the paces of being at the place of work popularly known as the organization. Some organizations have strict performance tools that point to whether a person is working or not and in a given day the same work done can be quantitatively measured and rewarded or punished otherwise.
The Same People/Employees: It is not funny coming to the same colleagues every day for twenty years or so something! You would need to have the love of a supernatural being for you to fit in these circumstances and settings. These staff have to grapple with concentration power problems and waning job satisfaction efforts. It becomes a herculean task for the drivers of business to realize any tangible outcomes (performance) from these team altogether. Matters get more complicated when the same cohort and a bigger percentage of about 90% are in the mean age of 45 years. These is the group that has reached its sunset years and beating them towards the realization of that organization’s goals becomes mission impossible. Seeing the same colleagues over and over again in a long span of time leads one to the treacherous road of despair, despondency, regret and eventually burnout. The situation is further aggravated when the recruitment and selection policy is not followed, when promotion policy is not followed, when there is disregard to the disciplinary procedure in place and etc etc. This same culture is replicated across organizations and therefore not fair to conclude that it is applied in one given enterprise. Such an environment becomes a good breeding ground for sabotaging work; forgetting something learnt; procrastinating; defying rules; rejoicing in failures; absent from work; cause accidents; get drunk; fight; bored; left out; clam up; misinterpret messages; avoid risks; stereotype others; discriminate against; stab others in the back; compete; threaten; disrupt work activities; and die.
Death of organizations
Managers have also failed in their critical role of guiding this critical resource and the outcome is often death of the organization. Employees lose their passion and engagement to the organization and run on low energy and fire to perform. Kahn completed some of the earliest work on engagement and defined it as harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances. The Gallup Organization in their best book, ‘First, Break All the Rules’, defines engaged employees as those who work with a passion and feel a profound connection to their company and drive innovation and move the organization forward.
To compete today, companies need to win over the minds (rational commitment) and the hearts (emotional commitment) of employees in ways that lead to extraordinary effort.
The Same Place
What happens if you were to stand in the same spot for long; two things will happen, one, is that you get tired and bored; two, is that you lose concentration and will try to sustain the effort especially when there are no new things to make the place livable. This scenario in our case and context also refers to the environment in which we work. Studies previously done indicate that a good number has had to leave a place because of the color scheme alone; others leave the place of work because of poor bosses but a majority again leave because of the space of offices and therefore sitting arrangements of employees; yet still the component of physical environment cannot just be wished away or bypassed.
The work environment comprises of both internal and external; internal environment could refer to building, furniture, layout and physical conditions under which employees operate. The external environment could refer to resultant factors such as customs, laws, weather condition, and policies outside of the work environment. Hughes surveyed 2000 employees in multiple levels and the results thereto showed that nine out of ten believed that a work space quality affects the attitude of employees and increases their productivity. A research conducted in the US in 2006 by an independent research firm on a sample size of 2013 and related to workplace designs, work satisfaction, and productivity; 89% of the respondents rated design as very important, 90% of senior officials revealed that effective workplace design is also important for the increase in employees’ productivity. The final outcome of the survey suggested that businesses could enhance their productivity by improving their workplace designs. A rough estimate made by executives showed that almost 22% increase could be achieved in the company’s performance if their offices are well designed.
It goes without saying that the ergonomics bit has to be checked, reviewed, constantly monitored, improved and ensuring that members of staff are comfortable with their seats, desks and spaces that they occupy. If these is not properly handled, you are a sure person running by a bottomless pit and you are walking by its edge without a care to the world. The probability of incurring huge medical bills as a result of staff complaining of backaches would be high.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (Einstein). At the place of work, staff have perfected this very art; how do you explain the part of coming to the place of work over and over again and doing the same job over and over again. The ideal setting would be that everything that you do now becomes habitual, repetitive, boring, exhausting, confusing and losing the mirth that could have been there in the first place. In such surroundings, attaining or achieving set goals would be a tall order if not a crime. Other researchers have suggested that this same person assumes the position of seniority on their own; many times listen to their superior give instructions and many times overlooking the same orders or direction given. So staff are coming to do the same thing and going through the same paces. Look at it this way, what if job rotation has been stretched to the limit and sometimes change of work functionalities between departments and still not much is felt and therefore in the long run the person is lost in burnout. Where is creativity and innovation in such areas where an employee is coming to the same place and same spot and performing similar tasks? Industry experts suggest that there has to be a high marker to define how long staff work in the same organization. It is often suggested that employees be put on a high marker of ten years and then put to pasture. In approaching it this way, the same should be clearly stipulated in the employment letter and in the easiest language understood by the member of staff. Same Story
Telling the same story has the same connotation of the history of that organization. Some naughty employees have coined and changed the mission statements of those organizations they serve for their own ends. Quite often than not, they tilt the story into their favour. This is how we do our thing here or this is how we have always done our thing over here. This qualifies to a bad culture if not checked regularly and mitigating measures put in place to correct the bad culture, would bring the very organization down on its knees. How then in these circumstances do you make the work environment more lively, livable and accommodating when the same account is given over and over again? In attempting to answer this question you are likely to fall into the pitfalls of regret, procrastination and confusion. There is totally no justifiable reason to state what happens when you meet as colleagues and run the same story line over and over again; in meetings, in the office, in the washroom and virtually every place and nook you look at and in. What would give in in such scenarios? How do you revamp the once vibrant organization and chasm so that you get people pushing in the same direction and talking positively and regaling in their winnings and successes? In these scenarios, you have to push towards having employees on your side, by sincerely being seen to be doing the correct thing, playing the one strand of mutual respect, firmly correcting them when they are going wrong, and always communicating and talking amongst all employees irrespective of positional hierarchy.