Looking to Motivate Employees in Your Workplace? Consider Adopting a Stronger Leisure Ethic

Written by Paul Marchildon, on February 25, 2013.

Our work ethic is out of whack; we need to incorporate a leisure ethic into the workplace and make room for greater productivity.  The problem is that we confuse leisure with laziness. The word “leisure” conjures up images of velour tracksuits and moving only when absolutely necessary, and even then, waiting until the last possible minute and taking it very, very slowly. But think about those days off when you plant your garden, read a chapter in a new book, talk to the neighbour, make bread from scratch, play with the kids or the dog, think of a new idea for work, daydream and stumble on a solution for this problem or that problem. Far from lazy, you are incredibly productive!  We’re “on” on days off, and off on days on. Imagine, though, if work stopped getting in the way of getting things done?

In 2005, when I sold my company to Maritz and joined the Senior Leadership Team, for the first time in years I worked for someone else. Therefore you can imagine how shocked I was when I went to check my Facebook page, as I generally do in the early mornings, only to discover that access to the site was blocked. As one of Canada’s leading marketing communication companies, I couldn’t understand why they would possibly ban access to social media in the workplace. The assumption was that people were wasting time and perpetuating unproductive habits. However Facebook is one of the finest marketing communication tools out there – and marketers should know how to use it.

Employees Lacking Motivation?

Paul Marchildon, an experienced Leisureologist, can work with you and your team to increase productivity by incorporating leisure into the workplace.

Sure, people might have been taking a little break, reading a little news, or making plans for the weekend. But we will always find ways to shoot the breeze, with or without the help of social media platforms. The difference is that social media offers the chance for employees to be ambassadors to the organization, to get in tune with marketing initiatives, or use it in other ways to further productivity. Since then, Maritz urges  all its employees to use social media this way.

Luckily for those of us who thrive on a little downtime, advocates of leisure ethics are proving this to companies time and again. Consider a scenario where a Marketing Strategist needs evidence to create a marketing plan for a new product. He or she could do what is expected to accomplish this task: drop all of their other work, spend days on the phone and in meetings, and as a last resort, buy research. Or he or she could take a risk and try a creative approach: use Twitter to gather feedback and conduct research. Most people are shocked by the quality and quantity of information they are able to gather by utilizing a Social Media tool for this purpose.

If employees use their Facebook break as a way to chat with friends or catch up on news, it’s not entirely a bad thing. A recent study found that those who do moderate “workplace internet leisure browsing” are about 9 percent more productive. Study author Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Management and Marketing, says, “people need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration.” This break “enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day’s work, and as a result, increased productivity.” The idea that we should ban all forms of leisure from our workdays is as absurd as it is untenable. How are we supposed to revitalize our minds, stay on top of industry trends and news, or be company ambassadors if we have to “work” all day long?
Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.