Let’s corelate the parallel roles of an employee to the popular multiverse theory.
The different universes within the multiverse are called the “parallel universes” or “many worlds”. Substitute these in the multiverse theory with “parallel roles” or “many roles” of an employee and you get introduced to the employee multiverse.
- The home-verse: mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son, wife, husband, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew and so on
- The work-verse: manager, sales executive, human resource executive, accountant, IT administrator, data entry operator, customer service specialist, programmer, data analyst, security officer, front desk officer and so on
- The indi-verse: the life that we live out of work and family with a select group of friends. This again has both the online and the offline versions
- The self-verse: often the smaller of the “many worlds”. One where we spend time with ourselves – doing what we love the most, to find some solace. Reading, travelling, cooking, binge-watching TV shows
Why are we discussing these many-worlds?
Because for a person to be truly happy, happiness needs to transcend these parallel universes. These “many worlds” subconsciously influence each other.
How can employers, leaders and managers influence and facilitate happiness across the many worlds?
Figure 1 represents the “many worlds” that co-exist in the employee multiverse.
Unlike the popular multiverse theory, here we as individuals move from one world to another everyday. As we move from one to another, we carry along our emotions too – happiness, worries, stress.
- How many of us are guilty of “taking our work home”?
- How many of us are guilty of allowing or forcing our teams to “take their work home”?
It’s rather easy to stop taking work home. But what about carrying our emotions back and forth?
A happy employee carries happiness back to his family and friends. A stress employee takes along the stress to wherever she goes.
Quite the same, people carry happiness, cheerfulness, hope, stress, depression from their other many worlds to their work-verse.
Solution to the multiverse challenge
We need to build an imaginary protective shield or layer that:
- Redirects all negative emotions back into the “work-verse” before the employee exits
- Absorbs all negative emotions before the employee enters the “work-verse”
Well, the shield or layer is a representation. What we need is rather a simple solution.
A simple ritual or process that could trigger a binary shift in emotions would work as the protective shield.
A good real world example is the pre-game team huddle you would have seen on the cricket field.
The game is the “work-verse” equivalent for each player in the team. While all eleven members of the cricket team enter the ground with a common goal, they all would have had very different experiences the day before or the morning before the game in their respective “other worlds”.
It’s the skipper’s responsibility that each member is in the right mental space to perform to the best of his abilities. The pre-game huddle is a ritual that gives the skipper those final few moments to inspire the team and trigger the binary switch.
Shift the focus away from everything else and help each player be 100% present on the ground – physically and mentally.
We need equivalents of this “team huddle” as pre and post work rituals. An imaginary protective shield to absorb or redirect negative emotions (Figure 2).
Help employees shift through the multiverse
The start and end of the workday has to be a tollgate – check for any signs of stress or unhappiness. Offer help when necessary.
For the above to be true, work has to have a definite start and end.
Encourage employees logging off from work on time. There will be a few days when work will get stretched beyond the normal hours – keep such instances as few as you can.
Develop team rituals to mark the beginning and end of each day’s work. A physical or online team huddle to help employees sign in and sign off. Absorb negative emotions during sign-in and redirect negative emotions at sign-off.
Remember that our many worlds do not exist in silos. They intersect, interact and influence.