Neuroscience of employee engagement

October 31, 2019 1:24 pm

Employee engagement drives business results. But how do you engage employees in the current business climate, when managers are time poor and the pace of change is accelerating?

Humans are highly social beings and our brains function best when we have a sense of connectedness. Likewise, when people are working within the context of long-term, value-based goals, they will persist longer and are better able to cope with change when they feel fully involved.

Recent findings in neuroscience provide leaders with some new approaches for engaging their team members.

Building ‘connectedness’

Effective leaders help people to connect at work by assisting them to recognise how their efforts contribute to achieving the mission of the organisation and ultimately benefit the customer. One of the most efficient ways leaders can accomplish this is to regularly talk with their employees about their strengths and work-related values.

This does not mean leaders should be spending time in long conversations about irrelevant issues. On the contrary, the discussions should be comfortable but focused and brief.

Explicitly stating the value of the employee’s specific contribution to the organisation and highlighting how their work assists other team members or benefits the client can have a significant, positive impact. These relationships are often more visible to the manager, who has the advantage of seeing the bigger picture, than to the employee focused on their individual tasks

Changing brain function

Clarity, connection and reinforcement of effort lead to changes in behaviour that include increased discretionary effort, a willingness to assist others and higher tolerance for stress/change.

Parallel changes in brain function include reduced activation of the regions of the brain associated with stress/fear and subsequent increases in concentration and more readily accessible memory. There are also increases in the neurochemicals that enhance learning.

These neural changes are associated with longer-term neuroplasticity (i.e. the ability of the brain to change/learn) and overall health and wellbeing

Lessons from neuroscience

The human brain functions most effectively when associated with others and learning is improved by social reinforcement. When time is short, making sure employees understand how to use their strengths to contribute to business results ensures leaders are deploying their available resources most effectively and at the same time contributing to their team’s satisfaction and wellbeing.

Dr Connie Henson author of BrainWise Leadership,runs change leadership programs informed by the latest neuroscience research through her company Learning Quest.

For more information on our group-based development program or TalentFAST  which is Learning Quest’s unique individualised leadership program that help leaders build thier capactity to inspire accountablity in others, please contact – Dr Connie Henson Grainne Davidson:

Photo Credit: Josh Riemer, Chuttersmap, Austin Distel on Unsplash

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