Psychologists have discovered that humans have a limited amount of self-control to exert each day. Self-control isn’t just about cutting out carbs or going to the gym. It’s about the energy we need to make choices, manage fear and frustration, experience change, learn something new or control stress. As employers, every time we require employees to use some level of self-control, we’re depleting their energy. And, when our energy’s gone, we’re less creative, we lose our focus and we lack the drive needed to bounce back from frustration or failure.
It occurs to me that Human Resources should be responsible for harnessing and maintaining human energy. In the world of business, the majority of our energy should be focused on doing our jobs – not filling out reports, attending meetings or responding to hundreds of emails. We’ve all heard companies say that people are their greatest asset and yet most do little to protect their employees from the countless distractions that turn work into drudgery.
Think of how efficient and effective an organization would be if its employees could actually do what they love — their jobs. Recruiting costs would plummet, attrition rates would fall, healthcare costs would decline and productivity and engagement would rise exponentially. I believe HR should look for every opportunity to increase and protect their organization’s greatest asset – human energy. Of course, many employees would say that HR is the biggest self-control abuser. They’re seen as the gatekeepers, policy setters, corporate bureaucrats and time wasters. That’s all the more reason for HR to take on this transformation.
Here’s how to start.
- Know your employees: Find out what activities or experiences cause employee dissatisfaction and which are motivational. Start by looking at Herzberg’s Hygiene and Motivational Factors for clues.
- Remove roadblocks within HR: Make the decision to reduce non-job-related distractions by 25% within 12 months. Get rid of redundant paperwork, simplify forms and processes and reduce the number of initiatives that require employee time and attention outside of their jobs.
- Look beyond HR: Seek out and find those areas within your organization that zap energy. Educate leaders, managers and supervisors on how to maximize energy and reduce employee dissatisfaction. Enact a zero tolerance policy for unnecessary initiatives and programs and build a culture that simply won’t abide employees who create chaos and dissatisfaction.
- Increase energy: Be a resource to help your company identify ways to energize and motivate employees. Unless you’re dealing with a sales force, money isn’t a motivator. Pay people competitively and then focus on those things that truly matter. Read Drive by Daniel Pink for more ideas.
Employee engagement results when we reduce the things that deplete our energy and increase the things that energize it. It’s that simple. A single focus – increasing energy – should drive every decision HR makes, every single day. It will reduce choices and illuminate a path that will lead everyone in the department, and ultimately, the organization to something truly important.
For more information, contact Sue Keever Watts at email@example.com