Positive Workplace and the Power of Employee Engagement

Positive Workplace and the Power of Employee Engagement Focus Groups

While employee engagement surveys are widely used to assess employee satisfaction, few companies act on the results they receive, and even fewer engage their employees to develop a plan forward and execute on identified opportunities for improvement.

Employee focus groups are one way to create short and long-term employee-driven action plans, which then, in turn, must be prioritized through leadership support and executed on through allocation of resources to employee wellbeing.

Engagement and the Optimal Working Environment: What Can Employers Do

Building organizations where people want to do their best rests on the shoulders of leaders that enable people to grow and be happy at work. Dr. Ron Friedman, who researches such organizations, tells us that happy employees work in companies that meet their employees’ needs, not only physical but also psychological.

These extraordinary places of work:

  • Provide work-life balance and support employee wellbeing,
  • Create environments that promote engagement, and
  • Satisfy everyone’s basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (2015).

Work-life balance is exemplified by leaders who respect the internal and individual rhythms of their employees, which in turn allows them to better control time and manage their energy. They role model setting boundaries and give flexibility. They promote physical wellness by offering perks that encourage self-care and do not reward those who never take time off.

Modern workplace design takes into account how our environment affects our ability to thrive at work and today we see more architecture that provides sunlight and access to nature. Specific activities we perform at work require different types of space, so open floor plans should not be the only option. Recent studies show for example that tall ceilings encourage creative ideas while round tables foster better collaboration.

Finally, the satisfaction of basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness are at the heart of employee engagement and these trends are well supported by the Self-Determination Theory.

The psychological need for autonomy can be satisfied by empowering employees to make decisions on how, when and where they do their jobs. This can be accomplished through:

  • job crafting
  • flexible working hours, and
  • personalized space.

The need for competence can be fostered by effective praise and appropriate on-the-job challenges. Some examples include:

  • meaningful and personalized recognition,
  • opportunities to learn, mentor and teach,
  • time to innovate and to explore without fear of making mistakes.

Finally, relatedness is exemplified in high-quality relationships that make us feel like we are a part of a community. Not surprisingly Gallup organizational surveys measuring employee wellbeing show that workplace friendships are a strong predictor of job satisfaction.

Being a part of cohesive and supportive team satisfies not only individual needs for belonging but also organizational needs for greater collaboration (Friedman, 2015).

But what is the recipe for an effective team?

Dan Coyle who studied not only top-performing companies and sports teams but also special ops, comedy troupes, and inner-city schools, found that cohesive teams exhibit these three characteristics:

  • They feel safe to take risks (Coyle offers an assessment of psychological safety at work and you can find it here)
  • They share vulnerabilities and can count on each other as shared risk is tremendously connecting; and
  • They have an established narrative which gives their teams a sense of purpose and direction and involves them in a shared goal (2018).

 Coyle reminds us that collective intelligence is not a sum of its parts. It is not enough to bring a group of talented people in a room. Interactions are more important than individual skills and no one knows it better than Google and Project Aristotle which proved that individual skills did not predict team performance (Duhigg, 2016).

Cultus in Latin means ‘care.’ Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. Culture, therefore, is not something you are, “it is something you do.” (Coyle, 2018)

As the study on employee experience by McKinsey shows, millennials who will represent as much as 30% of the population within the next decade, are looking for meaningful work with variety and support on the job. They also frequently ask for autonomy, flexibility, mentoring and connection (2018).

A healthy culture that fosters engagement is what enables us to thrive at work and while the employers can go a long way in creating optimal working conditions, a significant aspect of job satisfaction rests with the efforts that are under everyone’s individual control.

Would you like to learn more about Positive Organizational Scholarship, Practices and Building a Workplace Culture to increase employee engagement and well-being? Contact us for an unconditional online or offline meeting.

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