Repetitive Jobs and Variety - 13 October 2009
Most of the programs people watch on TV put them into a hypnotic state. If you ever speak to someone while they’re watching television and they don’t hear you or respond, it’s because they’re transfixed. They're in a trance.
During these periods, the activity in the brain switches from the left side (which is associated with rational analysis) to the right side (which is responsible for emotion). When this happens, the brain’s activity is reduced. In effect, it stops working. That’s why studies have shown that excessive mindless television makes people less intelligent over time and why left-brain exercises, like crosswords and learning languages, delay Alzheimer’s.
All of this happens because the human brain adapts to whatever environment it’s in. If it’s watching television, it goes on autopilot. If it’s at university, it ramps up logical thought. And if it’s in a repetitive job with little variety and limited scope for thinking, it enters screensaver mode. Just like those who watch dumb television, the brain stops working.
The consequence of this in the workplace is that you’ll have employees in mundane jobs that, at best, will stay developmentally stagnant, but if you’re unlucky, will go backwards in their cognitive abilities. The solution is to trigger their left-brain by getting them involved in:
- Thinking: Create opportunities for your team to solve problems, analyse complex situations, and break out of their routine headspace patterns.
- Learning: If during the space of each month your employees haven’t learned a new skill, no matter how small, then their brains are probably asleep.
- Changing: Spice up jobs by adding something new to the mix. Nothing beats the incorporation of their natural talents in some capacity within the work they do.
- Interacting: Get your team to collaborate with each other on projects and tasks where they’d be required to negotiate, strategise, plan, and implement.
- Moving: Employees in repetitive jobs must get active. Encourage them to take breaks where they get away from their desks and walk, even if just for a minute.
When people don’t use their brain, just like any other neglected muscle, they’ll lose it. Sometimes all it takes is someone to help them change the channel.
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