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: Love, Self-expansion and Employee Engagement

“Is there a connection between falling into lasting love and learning to love your work?” asks Alaina Love, co-author of “The Purpose Linked Organization: How Passionate Leaders Inspire Winning Teams and Great Results” (McGraw-Hill).

Drawing on research from the area of romantic love, conducted by Professor Gary Lewandowski, Love identifies a link to the psychological concept of self-expansion, our fundamental motivation to improve and grow as a person. This taps into a similar field to the work done by Daniel Pink in his book “Drive.”

The more we engage with a loved one and create experiences and opportunities for personal growth with them, the stronger the bonds become. “This is called self-expansion,” says Lewandowski. While we may fall in love based on chemistry, his research proves that we stay in love because we continue to introduce novelty, challenge and shared interests into our romantic relationships.

What would happen if we applied the same principle at work? What might happen if leaders in your organisation were able to introduce novelty, challenge and shared interest in the work place? Love points out, “Researchers have shown that jobs that introduce elements of self-expansion are viewed more positively by employees than jobs lacking them.”

Creating work opportunities that (a) offer real growth opportunities; (b) encourage employees to seek stretch assignments; and (c) take on assignments beyond their own role (and provide training to do so) can all help leaders create a more engaging environment.

I was tempted to think this is research that does nothing more than prove the obvious… but then I held back. Why? Because with employee engagement levels still worryingly low, everything we can do to encourage greater employee engagement must be worthwhile. And the three suggestions above should be within the remit of most thinking managers to deliver.

What are you doing to help your employees fall – and stay – in love?

Steve Short – Emenex

How Some Companies Are Aiming High In Leadership Development

 “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” —Michelangelo
What’s the aim of current leadership development efforts, asks Jack Zenger? One way of determining the current aim is to identify what is happening, he claims, in most companies. A few examples are:
    1. Have 40 leaders acquire some additional information or build a skill they can use.
    2. Provide a remedial experience for leaders who are faltering. This is leadership development used as an “emergency room.”
    3. Elevate the knowledge and skills of a small group of people who have been identified as “high-potential” by their respective bosses.
    4. Hone the knowledge and skills of the most senior executives via participation in a university executive development program.
Such targets represent good objectives – it is better to do these than nothing at all. The question is whether the above represent high aims, or whether the organisations implementing these initiatives could be aiming much higher. If so, how do we aim higher?  And what can happen when senior executives do aim high.

New alliance will further the employee engagement agenda

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is pleased to announce a new alliance with Engage for Success, the voluntary movement committed to promoting employee engagement. The alliance will see the CIPD taking full ownership of Engage for Success and responsibility for its operations from 1 July 2018.

The move reflects the fact that engagement is a core theme for the HR profession and brings together two organisations at the forefront of this issue. Their combined voice will seek to influence wider policy thinking and elevate the importance of employee engagement in creating more productive and aligned workforces.  The full press release here.

Power Towards the Positive

For the last three years, the CIPD has reported a small year on year increase in job satisfaction amongst UK employees across all sectors, modest in the private sector and more marked in the public sector. While overall, net satisfaction (calculated by subtracting the dissatisfied 16 percent from the satisfied 64 percent) hovers around 48 percent, this has increased from a low of just 40 percent two years ago (CIPD, 2017).

With good research to support it, the good news is that creating the conditions for more positive ways of working can be fairly straightforward claims Dr Paul Brewerton, writing for the HR Director. And evidence shows us that adopting such a way of working increases job satisfaction, engagement and productivity amongst employees (Dubreuil et al, 2016). The challenge remains staying strong in the face of a societal focus on the negative, which can take us off track if we don’t maintain the right environment for employees to thrive.

So how can you take employee engagement to the next level, from employees focused on surviving to those who are thriving? Here are Brewerton’s, extensive top tips for creating a positive, productive workplace, based on working with organisations from all sectors and of all sizes.

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