Engagement at work

July 8, 2009

I really like Rebecca Thorman’s most recent blog post “How to decide if you have a good job.” Her description of her team’s rush to launch their new website is an excellent example of my “bathtub analogy” of eustress and distress.  There is a LOT of workload and time pressure at her job, but Rebecca and others are simultaneously experiencing both positive and negative responses that are psychological (e.g. excitement, commitment, and anxiety), behavioral (lack of sleep), and physiological (e.g. adrenaline rush; cortisol).

It is also a great example of how Dr. Arnold Bakker envisions engagement:

Engagement is a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. Vigor is characterized by high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work, and persistence even in the face of difficulties. Dedication refers to being strongly involved in one’s work and experiencing a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. Absorption is characterized by being fully concentrated and happily engrossed in one’s work, whereby time passes quickly and one has difficulties with detaching oneself from work.

Here are examples from Rebecca’s blog post that illustrate these three aspects of engagement:

Absorption: “I work more than seventeen hours, my co-workers even more, and none of us really notice.”

Dedication: “I drive fast because I’m tired, and I want to sleep, and I want to get up and do it all over again.”

Vigor: “Fighting balance across the fence is blur. And that is where I live. A life that should preclude me from having any sort of relationship with anybody or anything other than work, but in reality, betters those relationships.  A place that makes me excited to be young and in love and working hard.”

Thanks, Rebecca, for this excellent example of engagement at work.

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Comments (7)

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  1. TR, Reno says:

    The kind of passion and commitment outlined in your “Engagement at Work” post is desireable in all areas of life, business and personal. Attitude is contagious and it sure helps if positive energy trickles down from the top (modeled by leaders in the office or the home.)

  2. Rebecca says:

    This is so much fun to see it broken down like this – great post and interesting to learn about. Thanks!

  3. TR: I must admit that engagement for me usually happens outside of work.
    Rebecca: You are truely fortunate to be engaged AT work. I hope you will tell us more about your work as things progress.