The Configurations: Sloggers, Tired But Involved

Usually the most involved people have the greatest energy, with involvement increasing one’s involvement and involvement in turn making people energetic. When these two qualities work together people become engaged with their work; when they are missing, people feel burned out.

Today’s configuration reflects a conflicting combination of high involvement with low energy. The work is compelling. Employees feel confident that their work is furthering values they care about. They are making people happy, making the world a better place, or countering destructive forces.

Although involvement in valued work often makes people more energetic, that impact is not certain. There are configurations in which people experience serious exhaustion when doing work they love. How does this contradictory configuration come about?

One pitfall of valued work is that it may entice people to become overly involved. When people with more dull jobs have long departed for home, the Sloggers continue working away. The sloggers are driven by determination and attraction to their work. In that they differ from the Workaholics who are more likely driven by fear. But despite this difference, their over-involvement presents a problem.

The biggest shortcoming of the slogging lifestyle is inadequate recovery cycles. To maintain constructive, fulfilling energy at work, people need the capacity to bounce back. They benefit from energizing breaks at work. These breaks can range from a few seconds of calm breathing or a walk around the work area for a minute or two. A real lunch hour can make a significant contribution. Sometimes variety in work topics or activities can make a contribution.

The most important part of recovery cycles occur outside of work. Sleep matters, as do exercise, the company of friends, and just having fun. More on recovery cycles later.

Sloggers share with their complement, the Energetic Disengaged, a temporary quality. When energy and involvement are out of sorts with one another, they are likely to resolve one way or the other. It may resolve towards burnout or towards engagement. The quality of relationships with coworkers and supervisors can push people one way or the other.

Slogging may be the best solution in an emergency situation in which people temporarily outrun their resources to address an urgent need. But it does not create a sustainable lifestyle.

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