A new psychological study attempts to create an ideal work scenario where workers are enthusiastic and fulfilled and employers content and satisfied with productivity.
Engaged individuals are more open to new information, more productive, and more willing to go the extra mile. Even more, engaged workers take the initiative to change their work environments in order to stay engaged.
Still, the question is, “How do we engage the workforce?”
In a new article to be published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science , Arnold B. Bakker creates a model of work engagement based on the best current research.
Bakker believes work engagement depends on two kinds of resources: job resources and personal resources.
Job resources include social support, feedback, and opportunities for autonomy, variety, and growth. Such resources are good for the worker — they satisfy basic human needs — and good for the workplace, because when job resources are rich, work gets done more quickly and with better results.
The environment is positive and self-fulfilling as working better is more rewarding for the worker, which in turn increases her engagement and effectiveness.
Interestingly, engagement — and high-quality performance — is greatest when the demands of the job are highest. This principle applies even to what we think of as low-level jobs, such as those at a fast-food restaurant.
The other critical component toward successful work engagement is the employees’ own personal resources—such as self-esteem and optimism.
Bakker believes workers with abundant personal resources approach their jobs with more enthusiasm and joy. Moreover, they also tend to be in better health, allowing them to focus and work hard.
Employee with grounded personalities tend to successfully “job-craft;” they are always on the look-out for ways to make their responsibilities “fit” their talents and interests and to increase the challenge.
Again, the process is an upward spiral. Job crafters gain admiration from other workers, thus transferring their attitudes to them. Those more productive attitudes increase the other workers’ engagement and with it, their own productivity and personal reward.
Of course, says Bakker, work engagement differs from person to person, which helps account for the fact that some are leaders and others are followers. For each person, engagement also ebbs and flows from day to day, even hour to hour.
Indeed, no one should expect to feel, or be expected to exhibit, peak engagement every second of the workday.
Sometimes work is tedious; employees need to be able to tolerate that. Nor should they be held to impossible standards.
Down time, says Bakker, is not only a mark of sympathetic management. It helps renew workers, keeping them happy, productive—and engaged.