Ivor Twydell and Richard Mott: Founders of Alquemy
Being engaged with what we are doing means being focused and energised. It means looking forward to going to work and feeling rewarded when you have done it. It comes from believing in what you are doing and sharing your enthusiasm with others.
Sadly, it seems that many of us do not feel this way about the work we do or the place where we do it.
The employer’s job is usually to create a sense of purpose. Increasingly we live in an era where employees expect to find a sense of purpose at work and, if they don’t, they will walk. We live in an era where it is the employer’s job to foster commitment by identifying the purpose of the organisation in such a way that employees can feel a sense of alignment.
As Harrison Owen put it, “Is this a place where people care to be, where they feel the freedom to follow responsibly what has heart and meaning for them?”
An employer who doesn’t understand this may simply blame today’s generation for not being committed and loyal, not being engaged and not sticking to one job long enough. However, this will do nothing to solve the problem of staff turnover.
An enlightened employer will grasp the opportunity to start a dialogue with employees where the aspirations of both parties are openly discussed and the common ground of shared purpose is found. Companies that do this are successful beyond expectation and way beyond the average. The energy that is released is enormous and tangible.
Part of the secret is to let go of the need to control everything from the top. By releasing the positive energy of every employee in this way, the true potential of the company can be realised. There is a new movement in the workplace towards helping companies to look to ways in which they can help release energy and the aspirations of employees in such a way that they can reach new heights. The excitement that follows not only affects their performance but enhances the reputation of the employer as someone who believes in their people enough to invest in them and see them grow.
There is a real opportunity for employee’s to be the best they can be, and even with a real sense of purpose in an organisation, an employee may still not be productive or achieve a sense of wellbeing. This will depend on four key states – mindful presence, self-efficacy, being in flow and staying fresh.
- Mindfulness. Using mindfulness at work is a way that employees can maintain their balance, even under pressure. It can be as simple as taking a moment before rushing off to do the next thing on your list or it can be checking in with your colleagues to see how everyone is before starting a meeting. Mindfulness is simple. However, remembering to be mindful is really hard when the pressure is on. In fact this is often when you need it the most. If you can remember, your performance and wellbeing will be truly enhanced.
- Self-efficacy. Albert Bandura, professor of Psychology at Stamford, has identified that performance at work is greatly affected by something he calls self-efficacy. This could also be described as a task-specific version of self-esteem. If you think about any task you have been faced with, you will recognise that your degree of confidence about achieving it successfully will affect your approach and almost certainly the outcome. In fact, many people avoid tasks that they are not confident about achieving a good outcome. So, our belief in our ability to be successful plays a major role in how we think, act and feel about our place in the world. Those with strong self-belief are more motivated and resilient and experience greater fulfilment and satisfaction with life.
- Being in flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about Flow and, in particular, the relationship between the challenge facing us and our capability. When the challenge is way above our capability, we feel extreme stress and cannot face the task. On the other hand, if our capability is far greater than the challenge, we will be bored and soon disengage. So, the key is to keep increasing the challenge to just beyond our capability and then improve our capability to match it – thus continually improving ourselves, being more and more useful to our employer and growing our skills and capabilities … all of which will keep us engaged and rewarded.
- Keeping yourself fresh. No matter how much you enjoy your job, there will probably come a time when it feels a bit stale. Not everyone can take a six-month sabbatical to freshen up but there are many short-break opportunities to investigate new experiences, which will refresh you and enable you to bring something new back into the business.