Find the flow for employee engagement

Help open a floodgate of employee engagement and productivity

employee engagement“Wow, where did the time go?” If you’ve ever been so immersed in a task that you were totally unaware of time or surroundings, you’ve experienced “flow.” In his book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi uses “flow” to describe the mental state where a person is fully immersed in an activity, performing at his or her best, and feeling energized throughout the process. To achieve this state, one must find the a balance that incorporates enough challenge and skill while diminishing anxiety and boredom.

As you manage people in your business, you’ll need to look at each person’s job to identify where he or she falls in relation to these four elements. If someone is bored, he or she won’t be in flow – there’s no tension, excitement or anything new to keep interest. But you also don’t want tension to become anxiety or challenges to overcome skill.

To help create an environment in your business that helps employees achieve a state of flow, try these three steps:

employee engagement

Set clear goals

Clear, attainable goals help employees know when and where to focus their attention, which helps concentration and motivation to thrive.

Set short reward cycles

When employees feel in control of tasks but don’t see incremental rewards in accomplishing the tasks, they can struggle in a state of boredom. If tasks are too challenging or rewards don’t equal the challenge, then anxiety can occur. So make sure rewards are provided at least quarterly and that they are on par with the task and the goal, e.g., getting an additional vacation day for attaining a predetermined production level or sales goal.

More variety, fewer interruptions

Repetitive tasks can quickly lead to boredom. That’s where providing a variety of tasks can help. Depending on your type of business, however, creating a variety of tasks within an employee’s job function may require a bit of thought and creativity on your part. Also, give employees time to focus. Fewer required meetings and setting specific times to review email can help reduce interruptions and increase engagement.

To begin, have conversations with each employee to identify how they view their jobs relative to challenge and skill, and anxiety versus boredom. Ask if he or she feels sufficiently challenged, or see if he or she would like to expand his or her expertise with a new skill set. And remember, as their manager, you assume the responsibility to ensure your reports are individually challenged.

You can see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi give a Ted talk on Flow here:

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Material prepared by Raymond James for use by its financial advisors.


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Olde Raleigh Financial Group

3110 Edwards Mill Road, Suite 340,
Raleigh, NC 27612
Phone: 919.861.8212
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