According to a Gallup poll, nine out of ten American workers do not feel “engaged” with their jobs. Translation: Most of us would rather be doing something else—except we need our salaries. But we all want more than money: We want opportunities to grow and we want respect. As Barry Schwartz, Swarthmore psychology professor and author of the forthcoming book Why We Work, recently wrote in The New York Times: We want above all, “work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way.”
Research consistently shows that workplaces are more profitable when they offer employees challenging and meaningful work over which they have some control. In his book, The Human Equation, Stanford organizational behavior professor Jeffrey Pfeffer cites a study of 136 IPO companies across different industries. The study found that companies placing a high value on human resources were almost 20 percent more likely to survive for at least five years than those that did not. Similar differences in success were found in studies that compared the management practices of steel mills, clothing manufacturers, semiconductor manufacturers, oil refiners, and various service industries.
We appreciate the enormous role that communication plays in generating employee involvement, and we agree with Schwartz who says we can up engagement, “by giving employees more of a say in how they do their jobs…by encouraging them to suggest improvements to the work process and listening to what they say…[and by emphasizing] the ways in which an employee’s work makes other people’s lives at least a little bit better.”
We want to hear. What keeps you engaged at work, and how does your organization communicate in ways that generate employee involvement? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Showing appreciation for a colleague at work (or even your boss!) is extremely powerful. A new report by TINYpulse--an app that sends weekly one-question surveys to employees--shows that frequent recognition increases the “fun” of work, and reduces turnover.
Drawing on survey results from over 500 clients, TINYpulse found that employees who reported getting lots of appreciation at work were the most likely to score highly on the question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastic would you be about reapplying for your job? The report also revealed a strong correlation between recognition and workers describing work as “fun.” Additionally, workers were more likely to rate their bosses favorably if they got recognition when it was deserved.
Beyond all this, we want to point out another powerful benefit to praising others at work. As we write in our book, BE QUIET BE HEARD, tell people you like what they’re doing, and they’ll repeat it! Offering praise not only gets people to engage in the same behaviors again, but also to look for ways of improving them.
Give thanks for a little and you will get a lot!
We want to hear! Have you praised or been praised in the workplace recently? What effect did it have? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
A decade-long research study of work culture, work-life fit, and health, funded by the National Institute of Health, has found that workers in environments that support work-life balance show half the risk of cardiovascular disease, significantly lower levels of stress, improved physical and mental health—and higher job satisfaction.
In explaining the research Ellen Ernst Kossek, professor of management at Purdue University, said her own research supports that people are more depressed when they have “low boundary control,” i.e. that their home life and “time off” will be invaded by relentless work issues.”
Despite the well-known benefits of work-life balance, many organizations appear to have challenges implementing this type of support. Part of the problem may be that managers—many of whom have been conditioned to be workaholics themselves—simply don’t know how to facilitate employees’ work-life needs.
In one of Kossek’s research experiments, she and her team trained managers of a grocery store chain for 45 minutes to an hour on how to support employees’ work-life needs. They began to offer emotional support and instrumental support, helping employees get the right schedule. They learned not only how to be creative, but how to be role models. We agree with Kossek, when she says, “If you train the whole manager group…you change not just individual behavior, but the entire culture.”
We want to hear. Do you feel you have good work-life balance and how does that balance, or lack of it, affect the way you feel about your workplace? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
The goal of feedback is to improve performance by increasing people’s self-awareness and understanding about how their actions affect others and how others perceive them. So feedback can provide a much-needed reality check.
But if the feedback you give seems to have little impact on behavior, maybe it’s because it’s not being given in the most effective way. Writing in The Harvard Business Review Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, offers ideas about what might be going wrong. Among them:
Finally, feedback shouldn’t begin and end with a performance review. As Chamorro-Premuzic says, “That’s just the beginning of the actual coaching, which requires follow through…”
We want to hear: How do you offer feedback and how do you like to receive it? Do you feel the feedback you have received has altered your behavior? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
With back-to-school excitement in the air, many parents are probably wondering how they can help their kids have a good year at school. The answer involves going back to basics. While there are many styles of parenting, one thing that consistently helps children is simply this: conversation.
Yes, just talking to your kids will help them emotionally, socially, and intellectually. And there appears to be a direct correlation between conversation length and reading ability. Speak often, speak wisely, and speak well: Because 88 to 98 percent of the words children use by age 3 are from their parents’ vocabularies! (Hart and Riley, 2003)
Can’t think of what to chat about? Read the kids a book! Studies also show that kids whose parents read to them at least 20 minutes a day are at least a grade level above others in reading by the time they are 15 years old.(PISA 2009 Assessment)
We want to hear: What do you like to talk about with the children in your life? What tips do you have for keeping conversations with kids afloat? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.