Are your employees punk?

Do you want employees with green mohawks and safety pins in their cheek?

punk rock at work
I think “punk” is probably the first thing people think when they see me, right?

How about employees who understand their work, say what’s really going on, strive to strip away what’s not working, willingly suffer to point out problems and pursue joy in their work?

This fascinating article details “principles of punk rock at work” that may resonate with you. If you’re interested in engaged employees, that is.

Nerdy musical thoughts on what makes punk work at work:

Years ago I worked with a man who drove a taxi in Manhattan. He wore his dad’s WW2 bomber jacket, and it got the attention of a customer: “I’m opening a new club in the Bowery,” he said. “Here’s my card. You should come to the opening.” He didn’t go, and that’s how he met Hilly Crystal but missed out on the chance to see CBGB, perhaps ground zero for punk.

But it wasn’t just punk, was it? Talking Heads started there, along with Blondie and the Ramones.

And Television. I have more Talking Heads records than all the others combined, but: Television. I’ve never forgotten their words in a 1990s documentary on rock. (I looked it up here to verify the quote–this link is surely not copyright-protected, and oh how very punk of me–just like this photo.)

Tom Verlaine said the band hated anything that involved pretense. No costumes. No long hair. They wore street clothes and short hair.

“And everybody worshiped us for it,” Richard Hell said, standing in an abandoned lot. “They’d crawl into CBGB’s. They were stacked up like these tires, so thirsty were they for reality.”

They were stacked up like these tires, so thirsty were they for reality.

Richard Hell of Television

There it is. It’s not about rebellion. It’s about authenticity.

Vinyl records are back in style. So are shaving brushes. And so on. Last week’s Squirrel Nut Zippers song has the same ethos: “If it’s good enough for Grandad, it’s good enough for me.

Divorced parents, commercialization of everything, moral failures in churches and corporations and government. The inability to say that any image put in front of us is real.

People are “thirsty for reality.”

The workplace actually can cut through to that: measurable achievement, real interactions with real people, a common cause.

If you can give them at least part of that in your workplace, they will “suffer” and “pursue joy” there.

That is employee engagement.