Employee Energy - 7 July 2015
Success in today’s workplace is very much dependent on employees’ level of energy. And yet the demands placed upon those reserves of energy have never been greater. Take, for example, the size and speed of change, the long hours spent at work, the way technology intrudes into our life, and the ‘doing more with less’ trend.
All of that stuff drains people’s energy, the consequence of which is quite predictable: disengagement. And now, in a series of five new studies published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers have discovered an important antidote: energy brokers.
Energy brokers are individuals within organisations who have the motivation and ability to energise other people. In most cases, the responsibility falls on the leader’s shoulders but colleagues can embrace this role just as effectively. What this comprehensive research has found is that when you effectively energise your employees, their levels of engagement subsequently increase and so, too, does their performance.
There are several reasons that explain this effect. One is that energy is contagious, so that when you’re authentically energised, that disposition catches on. Another is that energy is what’s known in academic parlance as a ‘resource’, which means it helps employees to cope with stressful experiences. And finally, deep down, most people yearn to have more energy, so they’re more likely to share some of yours if you have some to share.
So here are a few suggestions on how you can become more of an energy broker at work:
- Assess your own energy levels. If your employees seem lethargic and bored, it could be because you yourself are lethargic and bored.
- Employees are more inclined to exert energy if they like you and respect you. So invest time building meaningful relationships with them.
- They’re also more energetic when they feel their boss has faith in their ability to perform well. If you believe they have real potential, they’ll try to meet that expectation.
- Snap out of routine by engineering surprises such as celebrations, icebreakers, team activities, downtime, job redesign, and brainstorming.
- Be on the lookout for other energy brokers and put them into positions of influence. Employees are often more swayed by their peers than they are by their boss.
- Be cognisant of burnout. Energy brokers frequently end up exhausted, so make sure you look after yourself by eating well, exercising, taking breaks, and getting enough sleep.
As one of the hundreds of participants involved in the research emphatically said: “Having this energising boss made me feel motivated to work. It helped encourage me to work my hardest.”
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