Work Engagement: How to Overcome Resource Myopia and Feel Like a Million Bucks
The ability to marshall our resources for work has a huge impact on work engagement and managing stress. Yet many of us struggle to mobilize the wide variety of resources we have available to us.
For twenty years, I was a practicing counselling psychologist. My clients taught me much about navigating through their challenges but one thing that stood out for me during those years was how many clients suffered from, what I called, resource myopia.
Visual myopia is a type of near-sightedness where you have difficulty reading road signs and seeing distant objects clearly. Resource myopia is the failure to see personal, social, organizational, and structural resources available to you that seem distant in time, place or memory.
Clients would enter counselling with a problem or concern and fail to see the people, actions, attitudes, knowledge, and other resources that could help them endure, manage, master, or transform what brought them to counselling.
Many clients had used these resources in the past but were now failing to use them and even failing to see that they were even possibilities. My job was less about offering advice or solutions and more about helping them to see and use the resources they already had or could draw upon to deal with the current situation.
It seemed to me that resource myopia was similar to being unaware of our breathing. We are always breathing – it keeps us alive! Yet many of us just take it for granted. Meditators and mindfulness practitioners know the power of breathing to bring us into the moment and to contribute to our over all well-being. Yet many of us fail to see this resource – the ability to take a breather from work – that is literally right under our noses.
A game show example of resource myopia would be a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” experiencing the demands of a question they don’t have the answer for yet they fail to reach out for a lifeline by asking the audience, getting half the wrong answers eliminated, or phoning a friend.
I am 64 years of age but that does not stop me from being a fanboy of the Job Demand Resource (JD-R) model of work engagement. I appreciate the rigour, the research, and the immediate relevancy of this approach advanced by a number of academics around the globe including Arnold Bakker and Wilmar Schaufeli.
Here is a brief explanation of the JD-R model from an interview I conducted with Arnold Bakker in 2016:
The JD–R model is a scientific model that can be used to predict employee well-being, including burnout and work engagement. Accordingly, although every job is different, each job has certain characteristics that can be categorized as job demands or job resources. Job demands (e.g., workload, emotional demands) are the drivers of a stress process undermining employee health, whereas job resources (e.g., autonomy, feedback, opportunities for growth) are the drivers of a motivational process in the workplace.
This brings us back to resource myopia. I believe many employees are myopic to the resources they have available to meet the demands, hassles, threats, and conflicts embedded in work. Perhaps they have forgotten about a powerful tool they could use, a co-worker who could help them, or the possibility to lessen the demands through conversation with their supervisor.
To overcome resource myopia get your “I-checked” with a reflective pause or a work based fine tuning that corrects your murky vision of the resources available to you for the work you do.
Remember job resources can be physical, psychological, social, or organizational factors that help you meet the demands of work, achieve goals, and reduce stress. For example, exercising autonomy, building strong work relationships, seeking opportunities for advancement, utilizing coaching, and learning are just some examples of job resources.
So here is my encouragement to you. To foster work engagement and lessen work stress, the next time you are experiencing work demands that you feel challenged to meet or are causing undue stress, pause and take time to identify, determine, gather, and utilize the resources you already have but are failing to see.
You just might feel like a million bucks after advocating to get your unrealistic work demands cut in half, spending some time on the phone with a friend for emotional support and practical advice, and tapping into the extensive social networks that can offer you the working wisdom of crowds. So what are you waiting for……go phone a friend.
David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who works around the globe helping organizations and individuals improve work engagement and engaged wellbeing.