Engagement: the Lightning Rod to Productivity

Engagement: the Lightning Rod to Productivity

Since the 1970's, when research started to provide substantial evidence that people needed more from a workplace than a job description and a pay packet, organisations have been focused on the topic of engagement. 

Much "good practice" has centred on regular engagement surveys of employees, albeit with outcomes often addressed half-heartedly. "Progressive" organisations often invested in facilities such as gyms, smart workspaces or personal "benefits" for employees.

More recently the trendy term for "engagement" has morphed to "happiness", which provides a smiley gloss to the same idea. The solutions to "fix" happiness often remain the same as they always were for engagement.

In the last 20 years, evolving brain research has started to reveal scientific explanations for why human brains can feel "engaged" with their workplace, such as:

  • The link between leadership behaviour and building trust, including the role of the hormone oxytocin in influencing trust levels.

  • The fundamental needs of the human "social brain" where our sensitivity to relationships with other people can influence our degree of focus on our work.

  • The variation in how we each think and behave and the differences in what we each seek from our relationship with our leaders, team-mates and organisation.

All this exciting knowledge can provide us with new approaches to ensuring our people are both content and efficiently focused on their work. 

With this new understanding, engagement can become a lightning rod to productivity. To strike to target, leaders and organisations need to discard old-fashioned solutions and focus more on the brain science of how to interact with people.

We now understand that email conversations, working from home and other workplace elements that drive isolation, can directly compromise the human brain's ability to be calm, focused and productive. 

In fact, leaders need to spend less money on frills and spend more time on:

  • Understanding evolving brain science

  • Putting practical actions in place

  • Having high quality conversations

  • Seeking innovative, exciting approaches to engagement


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