Every two weeks we bring you opinion, news and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Organisational Performance, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.

Editorial: Leaders’ Influence on Employee Voice

Louisa Baczor, Research Associate CIPD, reviews an interesting new research paper, based on data collected from 36 middle managers and 109 employees at 5 IT companies in China. The researchers identified that, whilst employee voice is now a well-known factor in employee engagement (it’s one the four enablers of engagement identified by Engage for Success), until now there has been no study into how a leader’s ‘affective state’ (i.e. how they display their emotions) can predict the extent to which an employee will choose to exercise their ‘upward voice.’

It is an important factor to consider and those who read these bulletins regularly will already be aware of our conviction that the relationship between employees and line managers is absolutely vital in raising engagement; this paper shows clearly the significance of the employee / leader relationship to employee voice in particular. As Baczor reports, “The impact of leader affect on voice is likely to be moderated by the quality of the relationship between leader and employee.”

The report’s authors explain two mechanisms through which a leader’s emotional state can influence employee behaviour: emotional contagion and signalling. The first is an unconscious process whereby an individual mimics another’s emotions; for example, when a leader displays positive emotions, their team members will also tend to experience and mimic positive emotions. The second is where a leader’s emotional state influences employees’ attitudes and behaviours.

The outcomes of this study are no surprise to us at Emenex. As we would expect, leader’s ‘positive affect was positively related to employee’s positive affect, which led to psychological safety and then to upward voice.’ So is this a case of research simply confirming what we already knew? Perhaps, but whilst it is obvious to us, many organisations we meet still need support in making the business case for employee engagement as a driver for increased performance and productivity, and evidence of the important role that leaders play in encouraging employee voice – and hence employee engagement – is welcome.

Steve Short – Emenex

Beyond the Annual Employee Survey: Strengthening Your Business Outcomes 

Thursday 11 May 2017, 13:30, Warwick, UK.

Hosted by IBM and Engage for Success, this half-day workshop drills down on the innovation that is taking place within the area of Employee Voice, exploring the practicalities of continuous listening, the power of data analytics and the experience of organisations that are working at the forefront of this increasingly important discipline.  Free to attend.  Register Today.

Blog: Understanding and Reducing the UK Employee Productivity Gap

A recent interview with one of the chief BBC political editors highlighted the positive state of the British economy with relatively high levels of employment and positive GDP growth, but emphasised key concerns – particularly as we prepare to separate from the EU – of our worker productivity. Estimates of UK productivity rates are some 18 percentage points lower than the average for the rest of the G7 advanced economies.

It’s widely agreed that this low level of labour productivity is the core economic challenge faced by Britain – the ultimate economic foundation of future growth. But why is it happening, and how can we reverse this trend?  Read more.

Alistair Aitchison – Emenex

To Improve Engagement, Make Performance Reviews Focus on the Future

Frequent conversations are replacing the dreaded once-a-year performance review.

The performance review as it has been known is no more. At least that’s the consensus among some forward-thinking performance management specialists.

The performance appraisal has been the dreaded annual ritual for many employees, the nerve-rattling recap of everything they did wrong during the past six to 12 months. Even if the traditional performance review isn’t dead, it seems to be dying. And studies are documenting its demise. A 2015 Human Capital Institute study found that managers’ least liked workplace function behind firing employees was the traditional performance review.

The key to forward-looking performance reviews is frequency and collaboration cites one contributor to HRDIVE. “Conversations should be to the point and two-way. Managers should be asking employees, ‘How can I help’ to allow for growth and performance changes.”  Read this piece in full.  Further reading in this white paper.

Play to Your Strengths & Find “The Zone” in Your Career​

Athletes and artists often talk about being in “the zone.”  The zone is that place of high productivity – when everything else around you falls away and you are extremely focused on the task at hand.  From a work perspective, we think about that zone as a place of high engagement and we believe that when you are there, you are not only highly productive but also highly satisfied personally.

In this respect it’s critical to know and think about your strengths says Kate Bradley, writing for BlessingWhite.  Start by asking yourself two simple questions: what can I do or what do I know? And how do I get my work done?

Bradley continues here with practical advice to help answer these questions and guide some personal development.

The Right Culture: Not About Employee Happiness

  • Measuring workers’ contentment doesn’t improve business outcomes
  • Approaching engagement as a business strategy yields better results
  • Highly engaged organizations share common philosophies and practices

It’s true, says Gallup, that enthusiastic and energetic employees feel better about their work and workplace. But engagement is not determined by an abstract feeling. Measuring workers’ contentment or happiness levels, as well as catering to their wants, often fails to achieve the underlying goal of employee engagement: improved business outcomes.

Organisations have more success with engagement and improve business performance when they treat employees as stakeholders of their own future and the company’s future.

Go here for Gallup’s studies and evidence to support their point of view.

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