4 Ways to Increase Enthusiasm at Work


December 3, 2010

Engagement is a peculiar word.

In HR, we use it frequently yet I hear employees saying they have no real idea what it means.  It’s  one of those ambiguous words or phrases like “total rewards” or “managing up” that make employees think HR is trying to pull one over on them.  When I hear responses like that, I try to break it down for the employee to make the idea more palatable.  For engagement, I often use “enthusiasm for work” as the definition.

The very definition of enthusiasm mentions having a “lively interest” in something.  When I watch my kids, they are still young enough to show enthusiasm at almost any task.  Whether it’s learning a new subject at school, trying a new sport, or even being asked to help me around the house with some chores, I typically get a very enthusiastic reaction.  This element is lacking for many people in their daily jobs.

I know- it’s work and we have to be paid to do it.  But, to me, it’s more than that.  I have the power to adopt the attitude of having to drag myself in to my company, trudge grudgingly through my day, and collect my pay every two weeks.  I could do that.  I could probably even get by doing that for quite a while.  BUT I DON’T.

Know why?


  • Enthusiasm for my profession
  • Enthusiasm to work collaboratively with my colleagues
  • Enthusiasm to make my life more than just picking up a paycheck

Being enthusiastic every day at work can be more challenging at times, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s certainly preferable to watching the clock every day for eight hours or more while you despise being there.  When you no longer come to work with enthusiasm and you are only there to pick up a paycheck, it’s time for you to look for something else.

If you’re the boss, or in any role where you manage others, you need to be able to help increase enthusiasm for the work.  Especially knowing that a majority of people work to live, not live to work.  And, if your company is not doing as well financially, you may not have the luxury of motivating with money.  Here are some steps to take to increase enthusiasm toward the work:

·         Use creativity when collaborating with staff on goals– Now is the time to have those discussions that managers dread.  Most of us know we have to work with staff on their goals.  Why not kick it up a notch and be creative?  Ask the employee what they like about their work and what their wish list would look like if they could write their ideal job description. You may not be able to incorporate the entire with list, but if you even incorporate one item, it will help increase the employee’s enthusiasm.

·         Create opportunity This is not a passive activity.  You need to actively pursue new ways to find challenge for your staff, so pick up the phone or get up from your desk right now and walk out of your office.  Be on the lookout everywhere in your organization for places to plug your staff into doing something new and beneficial for them and the organization.  Do anything in your power to position your staff for additional challenging projects, clients, or roles.  This will help reinforce that you know they are important to the company success.  Get started by asking  managers from other departments to brainstorm with you on ways to help give opportunity to your employees they might not be getting now.

·         Give them feedback This is where many managers fall down on the job. Knowing that managers have trouble here, reach out for help. Contact a company like Rypple and create an easy way for the managers to give the feedback.

·         Have fun– This is key.  As the boss, you have to have time built into the workday where employees can blow off steam, act silly, joke, and laugh.  Grow your culture of enthusiasm.

While not a “cure all”, these things will certainly make the time that we all spend at work that much more valuable.  I feel more enthusiastic already.  Now if I could only bottle it!


  • The problem is, even in this horrendous economic climate, people still go through the motions and collect a pay cheque. It drives me freakin’ nuts!!!!! I just don’t understand that attitude ‘cos I LOVE what I do. But I took pride in EVER job I did, even delivering newspapers as a youngster…

    You give some great ideas to try to engage employees.

    I guess I wouldn’t be that patient. I can’t stand a lack of enthusiasm for a job, and I would probably end up telling an unengaged boss or minion to either enthusiastically do their job, or gather some enthusiasm to troll the internet for a new one. Maybe that’s why I’m not the boss…

    Good stuff, as always. I would say that this article needs to be given to every supervisor on the planet.

  • Enthusiasm is a choice. Of course you have it. You are you. Of course Doug has it. Doug is Doug. To the employee plagued by malaise, I’d ask the simple question, “What do you need to do to differently to trigger enthusiasm for your job?” Voila. Personal career objectives. I’m with Doug on this one. If you are waiting for your employer to engage you, I’m irritated.

    Measure employee engagement at the corporate scale and implement programs to inspire people. But, don’t do a darn thing for an individual who is not choosing to be engaged. Send the uninspired packing. As Able Lincoln might have said, “Most folks are about as engaged as they make up their minds to be.”


  • Great post, Trish. Doug makes some good comments, too. I’d say you’ve offered a strong argument for both sides of the engagement coin. You’ve first outlined that it’s up to the employee to choose to be engaged (or enthusiastic — I like that definition), but you’ve then also made it clear it’s up to the company (or manager) to create an environment or job in which the employee can and wants to be engaged in (enthusiastic about).

    Great explanation of both sides, Trish.

  • Wow- mentioned twice in the comments. I am chuffed.

    Yes- there are two sides to the story on a lack of engagement.

    The question I now pose is this: What do you do when you have a highly enthusiastic employee vs. an unengaged boss?

  • Personally I agree that the employee does need to show enthusiasm for what he/she does, but I think the people above him have to make life at work pleasant and enjoyable. No employee will show satisfaction from the place where he works if he does not see that other people, especially supervisors, managers and all the ranks above him show enthusiasm too.
    So the sample has to be set by the high ranks. I am convinced that employees will follow suit.

Comments are closed.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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