It is Sunday evening, Antiques Roadshow has just finished, the dog is now snoring after her walk, the smell of lunch is fading and your mind turns to the start of your working week. This is the moment for “The Sunday Question”: “Am I looking forward to going to work on Monday?”. David Zinger, employee engagement guru says this is a fundamentally important question we need to ask, and that when the answer is not positive, it is worth taking your courage in your hands to talk to your line manager!
One of the most recent global surveys carried out by The Gallup Organisation and published in 2013 (“The State of the Global Workplace”) offers the depressing statistic that only one in eight workers, roughly 180 million employees, are psychologically committed to their job and likely to be making a positive contribution to the organisation they work for. This information and the most recent information about stress in the workplace (HSE 2015) creates a bleak scenario of disengaged workers suffering chronic stress in an environment in which they spend a very significant proportion of their waking hours. In the field where I worked for over 30 years, education in the state sector, the most recent government data informs us that almost 40% of Newly Qualified Teachers have left the profession after a year in service. In 2005, the equivalent figure was 20%. This departure of very capable individuals who would have made an immense contribution to the learning and development of so many of our children and young people cannot be acceptable for our society.
You may be asking yourself a variety of questions that emerge from such a worrying level of reported engagement and unhappy workers. Is it really that bad? Is the data reliable? Can we do anything about this? The answer to the latter question is “Yes, absolutely”. There is abundant research and data about what encourages healthy, motivated workers, and the practical steps we can take to create positive organisations. At a recent conference in London in June run by The Strengths Partnership (www.strengthspartnership.com), speakers representing some of the 80 or so businesses and organisations present, presented strong case studies of how using the signature strengths of their employees had boosted employee engagement, teamwork, resilience, productivity and common purpose.
Signature strengths emerged in the late 1990’s from the field of Positive Psychology and are underlying qualities that each of us possess which when used give us energy, contribute to our personal growth and enhance our work performance. In brief, organisations can get involved in this process by:-
- Learning the background to the use of signature strengths and the value of Positive Psychology and Positive Organisational Scholarship to their organisation, and how these can facilitate engagement, motivation, energy and meaning at work
- Using an appropriate tool such as the Strengthscope survey®, Realise2®, or VIA survey to identify the strengths of employees
- Train and develop staff to coach others to utilise their signature strengths to build effective employees , and leaders to create teams with the right blend and balance of strengths
- Focus coaching conversations in performance reviews and line management on what strengths are being used and what can be done to enhance these
The benefits for any organisation are potentially very significant. The Gallup Organisation found that when line managers focused on strengths, the level of disengagement of their staff fell from 40% to 1%! When your organisation recognises your unique strengths and contribution, when active steps are taken to enable you to utilise your strengths and to value these, then your answer to The Sunday Question may be a positive one!