Have you ever heard of having “too much of a good thing”? For instance, eating one delicious piece of chocolate cake is great. But eating twenty slices would probably make you feel sick.

Well, the same is true of work engagement. We all know that it’s good to be engaged at work. People who feel engaged try harder. They’re more motivated, upbeat, and productive. But surprisingly, researchers have found that it’s actually possible to be too engaged at work. And people who are too engaged tend to be less than stellar employees.

People who are too engaged see their work as “a calling.” It’s their purpose. They feel like they must do their work their way, even if they’re asked to do things differently. They’re often unwilling to compromise or work with others. And they don’t have a lot of respect for authority.

As a result, these highly engaged people can be difficult to manage and hard to work with. This problem can get worse over time, and the quality of their work can suffer.

These highly engaged people may also experience problems in their personal lives. Researchers have found that they’re more likely to feel stressed at work. And they’re also more likely to take their work frustrations home with them, and possibly take it out on their friends and family members.

So what should be done to alleviate this problem? Some researchers suggest that managers should ease up on their efforts to engage employees. Instead of trying to enhance engagement in their entire department, managers should focus their attention on boosting engagement in detached employees only.

And even though it can be difficult, managers should talk to overly engaged employees about their behavior, and try to come up with ways to make the situation better. It’s hard to deliver negative feedback, but it can be very beneficial.   

Dizik, A. (2019, August 12). The problem with very engaged employees. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/beware-of-employees-who-are-very-engaged-in-their-work-11565575620