Offices of the Small Screen: What Prime Time can Teach us About Employee Engagement

6 min read

A June Gallup Study showed that employee engagement is staying at a stagnant 31.9%. That Means nearly 70% of the United States workforce is disengaged. This costs US businesses between 450 and 550 billion dollars every year, not to mention it negatively affects everything from employee retention to company culture. So how can we combat this lethargic workforce and add a little fuel to the fire for employees? Look no further than your prime-time line up. These sitcoms are not only entertaining, but also share some lessons about workplace politics and employee-manager relationships:

Parks and Recreation

Good managers make all the difference in the world. According to a recent Forbes article, people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Nearly 31% of people don't like their boss, and it's costing companies by creating high turn-over rates. At the beginning of the Parks and Recreation series Leslie Knope's overzealousness and enthusiasm originally bother deadpan, disengaged, intern April Ludgate. Eventually, though, Leslie’s leadership and nurturing bring out a side of April that reluctantly cares a lot about what she does. Knope helps her to see that if she’s working hard on projects that interest her, such as running an animal adoption fair, she’s more likely to bring her A-game. Over the series April’s character develops into a professional who feels confidence and passion for what she does. So what can you do to encourage managers and employees have thriving relationships? To start with, an MBO program can help you keep track of goals, plan one on one meetings, and pay for performance so that you both stay on the same page and employees can stay motivated to attain all of their goals.

The Office

You’re never stuck in one role, if you put in hard work it’s possible to move up and across organizations. While 'The Office' is probably most well known for depicting world's most incompetent boss, Michael Scott, as well as prolific workplace shenanigans, one major plot line involves Pam Beesly. When the series begins she's a receptionist for Dunder Mifflin, but a few seasons in she's worked her way up to being a sales person. Even though she has no prior experience, her knowledge of the company and her ambition lead to management giving her a chance in a new role. People often become disengaged when they feel stuck at work- combat this feeling by seeking out new opportunities within your own organization.

30 Rock

This show is filled with so many gems I couldn’t pick just one-the wisdom of Liz Lemon is never ending. So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things I've learned from 30 Rock about employee engagement: Never underestimate the power of food- a fed team is a happy team. Nuff' said. Second, find yourself a mentor; preferably one who has very different views about life from you. Liz's boss Jack becomes confidant, friend, and mentor to Lemon as she navigates promotions and her personal life. Finally, humor will get you far. When a project gets overwhelming, take a break to bond with co-workers, take a breath, and laugh it off.

The Mindy Project

Work-life balance. Although she doesn’t always attain a perfect balance, Mindy understands that all work and no play makes people lose interest in their work. Mindy has a full life- she’s a successful doctor, has a busy social life, and tons of friends and family that depend on her. While things don't always go smoothly, she's able to relate to patients better and keep her sanity because her life is about more than just her career, and in turn this makes her perform better when she is at work. You can use this lesson in your own organization by ensuring employees get enough time off to recharge and come back refreshed.  Tweet @Xactly to let us know what keeps you engaged at work!