No matter what the state of the economy, research shows that the best way to sustain a consistently high performing workforce is to have a happy workforce. In their work on creating sustainable performance, Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine demonstrate the foundation of long term business success. Their message is simple: If you give your employees the chance to learn and grow, they’ll thrive – and so will your organization.
What does it mean to be happy in your job? For Spreitzer & Porath, it means to ‘thrive’. A thriving workforce is one where employees are not just satisfied and productive but also engaged in creating the future – the company’s and their own. Thriving employees are highly energized and, importantly, they know how to avoid burnout.
If you remain skeptical, here’s some numbers. People who thrive have:
- 16% – 27% better performance
- 125% less burnout (read: big impact!)
- 32% more committed to the organization
- 46% more satisfied with their jobs.
People who thrive also miss less work and have fewer doctor visits. This means significant health care savings and less lost time due to absenteeism. This is further backed up by recent work from Gallup which demonstrates that having high levels of wellbeing is good for both employee and employer alike.
Spreitzer & Porath point to two underlying components of thriving: vitality and learning.
Vitality is the sense of being alive, passionate, and excited. Employees who experience vitality spark energy in themselves and others. Companies generate vitality by giving people the sense that what they do on a daily basis makes a difference.
Learning is the growth that comes from gaining new knowledge and skills. Learning triggers a virtuous cycle: People who are developing their abilities tend to believe in their potential for further growth.
The two qualities work in concert. One requires the other. Each alone is unsustainable over the long term. The combination of vitality and learning is powerful. It leads to people who deliver results and find ways to grow.
How To Help Your People Thrive
The best part is that leaders can spark a culture that supports people to thrive without dramatic measures or huge chunks of change. There are 4 mechanisms that set the foundation for employees to thrive. Like learning and vitality, all are necessary.
- Provide Decision-Making Discretion – Empower your people at every level to have more say in the decisions effecting their work. This will energize them and provide them with a greater sense of control.
- Share Information – Working in a vacuum sucks. It neither inspires or feeds innovation. Workplaces that make information widely available build trust and this gives people the knowledge they need to make good decisions and take initiative with confidence.
- Minimize Incivility – I can’t emphasize this enough. The costs of incivility are great. Employees who experience uncivil behavior at work intentionally decrease their efforts and the quality of their work. A single bad player can set the culture awry.
- Offer Performance Feedback – Feedback creates opportunities for learning and the energy so critical for a culture of thriving. The quicker and more direct the feedback, the more useful it is.
Creating the conditions for thriving requires focus and determination. As I’ve argued in the past, helping people grow and remain energized at work is worthy on its own merits. But by doing so, you’ll also boost your company’s performance over the long haul. Isn’t this the bottom line that we all want anyways?