This authored article by Akshay Sharma – Co-Founder, SCIKEY originally published in Business World
Job satisfaction and employee engagement have been focus areas for most organizations in enhancing employee productivity. With the entry of COVID, the equations seem to turn more complicated.
The changing dynamics, such as limited physical interaction and reduced physical movements due to remote work, have adversely affected employee motivation. The primary reason for low motivation is the reduced secretion of hormones such as dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin due to changing social norms and sedentary lifestyles.
In these changing times, organizations need to move from mechanical job satisfaction towards inherent job happiness. As per the research conducted by positive psychologist Shawn Achor, our brain is 31 percent more productive when we are happy than our brain in negative, neutral, or stressed states. As per Achor’s research, happy people are 31 percent better at sales, and happy doctors are 19 percent faster, accurate when happy, compared with their brains in negative, neutral, or stressed states.
Studies show that most organizations follow a formula for success: If you work harder, you will be more successful.
And if you are more successful, then you will be happier. Whereas on the contrary, research shows that our brains work oppositely. It is assumed that success is a result of happiness, not the other way around, with the findings prove that happy people are more productive and engaged at work.
So the apparent goal for managers should be, how can they make the employees happier?
Post-COVID, managers need to understand these underlying scientific reasons that can affect their team’s productivity. It is the organization’s leadership’s responsibility that they re-build the organizational culture, a post-COVID culture.
How can organizations build a post-COVID culture?
Be Transparent – An employee engagement survey done in 2013 by TinyPULSE, found that transparency was the topmost factor contributing to employee happiness. The present-day corporate cultures seem like a spider web of complex policies, with decisions coming out from a black box for an employee. Communicating the right facts regularly, sharing the organization’s objectives and reasons behind major decisions can help build a strong connection with employees. Transparency costs zero and can go a long way in enhancing employee happiness.
Building a culture of trust – Trust acts as a catalyst for any organization’s growth and post-COVID it has become all the more important. We have a lot to learn from Netflix, which evolved from a startup to a multi-billion giant, in a span of 20 years with it’s “People over Processes” culture. To engage it’s employees, Netflix does not reply on rewards and financial incentives. It’s manifesto says “Our version of the great workplace is not comprised of sushi lunches, great gyms, fancy offices or frequent parties. Our version of the great workplace is a dream team in pursuit of ambitious common goals”. They rely on the idea of a dream team, in which all team members are extraordinary at what they do and collaborate in a highly effective manner. The result is a more flexible, fun, stimulating, creative, and successful organization. Policies such as unlimited holidays, have significantly helped in establishing trust and thereby boosting productivity. Netflix’s 5 word expense policy is fully based on trust: “Act in Netflix’s best interests”. To some such policies may sound crazy, but Netflix’s culture has proven the power of trust.
Interventions and policies that reinforce a positive mindset among employees
Research studies have shown that, across the world, positive psychology interventions have helped employees overcome stress and creating a mindset shift, thereby enhancing their overall performance. The top leadership should lead such interventions as role models, to emphasize upon it’s priority. Moreover, these should be accompanied with proper processes to track employee performance effectiveness and sustainability. Organizations such as Publix, which have motivated employees to become part of the bigger picture, have demonstrated the power of employee ownership and motivation and have become a threat for a giant like Walmart. Simple practices, such as bringing the team together for a gratitude shower, have significantly increased the team’s performance. Research indicates that expressing gratitude is beneficial to our health and well-being. We are happy when we are grateful, is a well-established fact based on the research paper by Sonja Lyubomirsky, published in the journal “Review of General Psychology”.
In such challenging times, organizations need to support their employees with the right motivation and positive interventions; else they would lose their talent to adaptive organizations with better cultures.
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