A desensitized workforce due to a growing toxic culture has a lasting negative effect on productivity and focused engagement within the workforce. Simply stated, many of the things that people watch, hear and see today as entertainment in the form of movies, television, social media, You Tube and the 6:00 news are toxic waste to the mind. Moreover, people take this toxic negative thinking with them from home to the workplace on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, leadership and management have been lead to believe that productivity and work-life balance are a work related issue and go only one way with the worker – from the workplace to home. However, during personal hours the worker is exposed to a constant barrage of visual, sensory and auditory cultural pollution that is desensitizing, disengaging and distracting for relationships and productivity both at home and in the workplace.
Negative toxic thinking started creeping into our culture in the 70s and 80s and turned into raging out of control floodwaters as society stepped into the 21st Century.
- Once called the dumbing-down of America, it has been further downgraded to the desensitizing of Americans – whether by unending exposure to violence in the guise of entertainment, fear of real or perceived terrorist threats and music that degrades, demoralizes and denounces segments of the population or ways of life.
- Civil discourse, unrest and disagreement have become disobedience and lawlessness – it’s always someone else’s fault.
- Respect for elders, authority figures, and societal laws have succumbed to verbal, mental and physical attacks, abuse or denigration.
- Civilized communication has become rude, crude and vulgar whether on the television and radio, in the workplace, music and/or through social media.
- Private property rights have given way to eminent domain abuse all in the name of financial gain.
Virtually no workplace has escaped the ravages of some form of desensitization, which leads to distracted focus and a disengaged workforce – all of which reduces productivity and profitability. This desensitization of America syndrome is far more prevalent in Generation X and Y than in Boomers, and is toxic to the societal culture where it will soon turn from a syndrome to epidemic proportions if left unchecked.
A Simple Plan for a Complex Workplace Issue
Even though this syndrome is not a Boomer problem, because all workforces today are multigenerational, it is a Boomer concern because their work ethic, communications and respect for fellow workers is being challenged, disregarded and often ridiculed. They may not need guidelines on how to reverse much of the desensitization but do need help in understanding why Generation X and Y treat them the way they do, and how to cope with it.
Create a Plan. Winging it is not the answer to this problem. Besides being a very complex issue because of multi-generations in the workforce, leadership also faces two younger generations that question and challenge everything. Since the majority of them were never told “no” as they were growing up, and goal lines were continually moved so they could feel better about themselves, they know no boundaries and live by no one else’s rules but their own.
Determine what you expect from each person in your workplace on a social, interpersonal and work performance level including attitude, respect for authority and co-workers, attire and overall disposition. This is a situation where it is in the best interest of everyone if the employer and leadership are in solid control. Use very specific language, no generalities here. Tell them what you expect, what they can expect in return, what the penalties are for non-compliance and then tell them why. It will save you a lot of time answering in advance all of their “why” questions.
Communicate your Plan. A plan is only as good as what the recipient hears and understands. If you create a plan and put it in a book on the shelf, you will be just spinning your wheels and going backwards fast. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Make the language in your plan as brief, clear and concise. This is not a dissertation but a method of communicating your rules of engagement and operation in the workplace. Be bold and blunt about what language, actions, respect for others, clothing and work ethic is expected and why. Leave no room for misinterpretation.
Explain the Why. By explaining why there is a plan and what is expected when putting your plan into operation you will level the playing field. The Boomers will appreciate you looking out for them and will understand why they feel assaulted and ignored. And, Generation X and Y will know exactly what is expected of them, what they get in return and what will happen if they do not comply. Compliance is mandatory not optional to remain employed.
Expect performance to Improve. A plan that reverses all of the negatives of a desensitized, distracted focus and disengaged workforce will always result in improved
productivity, performance and profitability. This is a universal principle of balance. By creating a new roadmap to the future with less negativity and desensitized distracted focus, all aspects of the operation get better.
Review and re-communicate your Plan. Your plan is a living breathing document. It should not be created and considered a masterpiece but rather should be fluid and move with the flow of focus you require in your workplace to accomplish your goals and objectives. Discuss your plan at regularly scheduled meetings, involve the entire team in your review, and upgrade to a new plan. However, upgrade only if it improves the plan, not to just pacify a few that will not comply anyhow.
Then communicate again and again. Use all forms of communication; in person meetings, internal email, in-house Facebook, published employee behavioral guidelines, visual postings including graphics and pictures in common areas frequented by everyone. Get various teams involved in creating the communications tools. The message will spread like wild fire with everyone aboard.
An action plan that desensitizes toxic thinking and upgrades communication skills and interpersonal interactions of a multigenerational workforce with clear easy to understand expectations, is the 21st Century roadmap to more productivity and profitability.
© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2011
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She creates environments that engage and focus your workforce. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and can be reached at www.Energy-by-Design.com or call: 561-408-2708.Share