Office Space Clip: A lesson on employee engagement

by Rich DeMatteo on September 3, 2009 · 13 comments

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For those not receiving an invite to the  joyous Human Resources buzz word party, employee engagement is a phrase used to describe how motivated, or excited employees are in their role.  Organizations with a strategic HR function run surveys on their employees to understand the level of engagement at  the company.  Certainly, other items are measured, but without actively engaged, motivated, and excited employees, is their really a company at all?

Besides the famous “PC Load Letter” scene, the below clip from Office Space is my favorite.  Not because it’s full of goofy giggles, but just because it just hits spot on with how a disengaged employee feels.  Mike Judge, director of Office Space, knocks it out of the park.  Watch this short clip (just under 4 minutes), and then go down to the bottom for a quick review:

So, how do we know Peter is disengaged?  That’s easy.  He comes right out and confesses to coming in late, and spacing out for a couple hours a day.  But, the absolute best quote is when Peter explains that while he has a fear of losing his job, that fear will only make someone work just hard enough to not get fired.  Oh Mike Judge, you are so profound!

Can you imagine how many of today’s workers just do whatever they can simply keep their job?  With the job market the way it is, employees realize they basically need to just suck it up, and do the minimal amount of work required just to get by. What a nightmare.  But, hanging on like that does eventually get noticed by the employer.  So, what is the employers course of action?  Hopefully, they choose to have  an open conversation with the employee, which can lead to a resolution.  In this case, the employer becomes a hero, simply using words.  What unfortunately happens most often is warnings are fired out at the employee and nothing changes, eventually leading to a termination.

So, what should YOU do if you are unmotivated, and disengaged at work?

  1. Don’t be bashful.  Have a conversation with your supervisor look into an immediate resolution, if there is one.
  2. Look for a position internally in an area that excites you.  Talk to someone in HR, or recruiting about what may be opening and what you could be qualified for.
  3. Do your best to perform above the minimal level.  Minimal gets noticed, but a middle of the road employee does not.  No need to take on every extra project, but try one or two.
  4. Smile as much as you can and visit my website daily for a good time.
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