Are You Putting Your Strengths To Work?
Think about your current workplace. Ask yourself:
- Every week, do I set goals and expectations based on my strengths?
- Can I name the strengths of people I work with?
- In the last three months, have my supervisor and I had a meaningful discussion about my strengths?
- Is my organization committed to building the strengths of each associate (Rutigliano, 2011)?
These questions are united in their emphasis on cultivating a strength-based climate, and are currently used by Gallup to discern workplace culture. Strength-based climates manifest in unique manners and are different in each setting, but they share common characteristics including a focus on the strengths and abilities of employees, assignment of roles based on strengths, encouragement of self-awareness, and empowerment of employees.
In addition to a strength-based climate being related to improved performance and job satisfaction, it also helps employees to “plug in” (Harzer & Ruch, 2013). Strength-based climates are associated with a higher rate of active employee engagement when compared to only non-strength-based workplaces, by 64% (Rath & Conchie, 2009). Plugging in at work, or boosting employee engagement, has increasingly become a challenge for employees and administrators alike. This concern is rooted in a growing holistic view of the work experience that focuses on employee thriving.
Employee engagement encompasses three aspects of experience, including a physical component (“I invest a great deal of time in my work”), an emotional component (“My heart is in my work”), and a cognitive component (“I am engrossed in my work”; Attridge, 2009). Think of a time where you have felt engaged at work. What were you doing, how did you feel, what were you thinking?
Employee engagement is also said to occur when employees experience positive emotions and find meaning in their work, when they do not find their work to be burdensome, and when they are hopeful about work in the future (Attridge, 2009). Its benefits are prevalent at both the organizational and individual levels. These include decreased turnover and burnout, increased job satisfaction, increased health and well-being, increased productivity, and overall organizational profit.
So, when looking for a way to “plug in” at work, it would prove invaluable to examine the company culture and attitude towards personal strength use and development.
- Am I being actively used to my fullest capacity?
- Do I have the chance to do what I’m best at every day?
- Am I supported and encouraged to grow?
- Are my coworkers committed to the organization’s purpose?
If not, it may be time to assess your own strengths to discern how best to put them to work and initiate a meaningful conversation with the people you work with.
Attridge,M. (2009). Measuring and managing employee work engagement: A review of the research and business literature. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 24, 383-389.
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2013). The application of signature character strengths and positive experiences at work. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(3), 965-983.
Kumar, V., & Pansari, A. (2015). Measuring the benefits of employee engagement. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(4), 67-72.
Rath, T. & Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths based leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow. New York: Gallup Press.
Rutigliano, T. Gallup. (2011). Building a strengths-based organization. Washington DC.
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