How Taking a Tip from Harry Potter Can Boost Employee Productivity by 7.8%
Strengths—the characteristics that pull from our natural talents, skills, and knowledge—are really often given short shrift in the work place. It’s more common to have a managerial discussion about areas that need improvement than areas where performance is consistently outstanding with employees, and that’s a shame.
Most People Don’t Use Their Strengths . . .
The fact is, most Americans don’t use their strengths throughout the day. When employees are not using their strengths, they might be content, or satisfied with their job, but they don’t feel connected in any particular way. Over time, employees who are not working to their strengths become disengaged from their work. This is bad for the employee, but it’s also bad for the business, since low engagement has a significant impact on productivity, operating margins, and—of course—morale.
. . .and that Creates Big Problems with Disengagement and Low Productivity
73 percent of employees are disengaged or actively disengaged from their work.
The 21 percent of employees who are “actively disengaged” cost American businesses more than $350B in productivity every year.
Operating margins at businesses with low employee engagement are 10%, compared to 27% margins at high-engagement companies.
Forty percent of employees who are poorly engaged plan to leave their jobs in the next two years. And the cost of job turnover is extremely expensive.
Of course, poor engagement has costs to the employee too, including poorer health, and higher levels of stress and worry.
But, Managers Can Boost Engagement by Playing to Employee Strengths
Interestingly, managers can boost engagement just by identifying strengths required for different functional areas and using the employees who have those strengths to do those tasks. The manager’s job is less about forcing the square peg, and more about matching employee strengths with work that needs to be done. This is a significant, but surmountable, challenge for managers.
How to Catch a Glimpse of Hidden Strengths
Some employees, despite having presumably what must be a better historical understanding of their strengths than their managers, will immediately think like Harry Potter did in the hours before he faced the Hungarian Horntail. He knew he had to use his strengths, but his immediate concern was, “but I haven’t got any strengths.”
Not having identified strengths certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t there. One way to start is to ask yourself, or your employee, what they were doing the last time they lost track of time or felt an emotional high at work.
When an Employee Works to Their Strengths, there are Big Benefits
That sense of timelessness is a strong signal that the employee was using their strengths and a definite signal that the employee was engaged. When managers can draw out and leverage employee strengths, their workers become engaged, show sustainable high performance, 7.8 percent greater productivity, and deep connections and involvement in their work. They also stay with their employers longer, and tend to bring their colleagues performance up too.
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