Episode 69.5 – Green Apple Slice


Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Forbes article, “Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive” by Ryan Fuller and Nina Shikaloff.


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    John: Here we are again with another episode of Green Apple Slices and I have Rachel Fisch joining me from Deloitte, so how exciting is that.

    Rachel: Here I am. Pretty good.

    John: You’re in charge of all of Deloitte Canada, is that what your job is?

    Rachel: That’s right, yup.

    John: I’m not even sure anymore. You just get promoted every week, that’s what happens. But I’m excited to talk with you through this article here. It was in the Harvard Business Review and it was “Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive”.

    Rachel: Which I agree with wholeheartedly.

    John: See, there you go, absolutely. It was by Ryan Fuller and Nina Shikaloff. I think that’s an interesting title and I liked it and I was all about it. And then I read the article and I was like, “Wait a minute, how did you guys do this study?” I’m not quite 100% sure. They do bring up some really cool facts, like only 33% of the US workers say they’re engaged but globally it’s 13%.

    Rachel: What does that even mean? Here’s one piece, let’s start with what does engaged mean? And it means that it’s a very ambiguous term but it doesn’t really seem to do a lot to clarify that. Is that you feel valued at work, like how else can we talk about what engaged means, both to the employees, so what makes them feel engaged, as well as to the employer saying being confident and yes, my staff are engaged? I think there are other ways to quantify that.

    John: Absolutely. I think engaged means that you’re going to get married. I just go back to this awkward time where we were planning a wedding and I don’t want to do that again. That is crazy time. But when it comes to work, clearly engagement, yeah, and that’s the thing is it depends on how you define it, is it happiness, and so they try to find a correlation between people that said that they were more engaged and people that worked longer hours because they thought that productivity meant longer hours.

    Rachel: Right, and that’s where to me it kind of goes off the rails. Sorry. I’m just going to plow right over you again. It’s why you like talking to me.

    John: Well, you’re the Lead so I understand how you got promoted. You just went in as an intern three weeks ago and then now “I run this place.”

    Rachel: But attendance does not mean productivity and there are ways that you can, again, quantify and measure and stuff about productivity, but just showing up, you can be sleeping at your desk for all you know and you say you’re engaged so you don’t get in trouble. What are the factors in here that we’re actually measuring? And I think that there are probably a lot more measurable in work place situations and in the professional world than I think people even pay a lot of attention to and there are some really key ones but one is measuring actual productivity.

    If you have a highly-engaged, highly-productive staff it’s actually better for them if they don’t work super long hours because we’re just talking about not being plugged in and about making sure that you’ve got this work-life balance, whatever that is. But they’re not the same thing. So if you have highly-engaged, highly-productive employees I would counter that they should actually not need to be at work as long as what they’re mentioning in the article. So that’s where it went off.

    John: Right, exactly. Maybe that’s why they are engaged is because they’re not at work for ten and twelve hours a day and so it kind of goes hand-in-hand there. And I agree, it is one of those things where at the end they say that it’s up to the company, that they have to create a culture of both engagement and productivity and they need to define what that is for themselves and then go out and recruit those people and create that culture because it’s got to go all the way from the top-down. But yeah, it’s up to them to define that and then just drive it home. But I certainly don’t think that hours worked is productive because I remember when I used to work I often wasn’t the first person in and I certainly wasn’t the last one out. And the people that were I always thought “You’re probably not very good at your job” like “What’s taking you so long?” and why did that person just get promoted and get a certificate for being employee of the month or whatever and I’m like, “This guy’s terrible, are you joking?”

    Rachel: Yeah. And I think that time is valuable as a factor in productivity and other measurable and calculations; however, that shouldn’t be the measure.

    John: Right, exactly. So look out, Harvard Business Review, we’re coming at you.

    Rachel: Here comes the Green Apple Slices.

    John: Right. Duck! I’m leaving the seeds in for them, I’m not even cutting out the middle part. Nope. So there we go, there’s your Monday Green Apple Slices. Hopefully, you guys have a good week, and thanks so much, Rachel, for being with me.

    Rachel: Awesome. Of course, anytime.

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