The topic of employee engagement is one that has been the subject of much debate in recent years. There is certainly no shortage of articles, blog posts, infographics, and the like dissecting every possible facet of the subject, to the point where it seems no stone has been left unturned. I should know – because I’ve written dozens of articles on the subject, too.
If there’s a unifying theme to the conventional wisdom you’re likely to find about employee engagement, though, it’s that employers are the ones who aren’t doing enough to keep their employees happy and thriving. The reality, though, is far more complex. That’s because the employees themselves have the power to thwart any efforts by an organization to increase engagement, even if they’re not doing it on purpose.
That fact does have a silver lining, though – and it’s that if employees can derail engagement efforts, they can also singlehandedly make them work. It turns out that there may be an easy way for business managers to help them do just that, and all it takes is providing the right tools for the job, and supporting their efforts.
Best Laid Plans
According to a research study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the average employee has the ability to boost their own engagement and productivity just by planning their workday in advance. The study found that there was a strong correlation between the application of time management techniques and better outcomes with regard to engagement and productivity. That means it’s in every organization’s best interests to provide tools and training to their employees to help them make time management a part of their workday, every day.
To make the most of the possible benefits, it’s necessary to understand what kind of planning will achieve the maximum effect, and under which circumstances. The study found that the most effective method was for the employee to first consider how many interruptions they expected to face throughout the day, and devise strategies to mitigate them (known as contingency planning). After accounting for interruptions, they should then create a to-do list in order of priority in a clear and concise format.
Supporting Time Management
There was, however, one rather large caveat contained in the study. They found that the benefits to engagement derived from employee time management efforts diminished to near-zero on days when interruptions were very high. That result clearly demonstrates that no amount of planning can deal with frequent disruptions and that it is a discouraging, frustrating experience for employees across the board.
Although there’s no perfect solution to ending disruptions in the workplace, there is quite a bit that employers can do to minimize them. First, simply creating a uniform schedule that includes staff meetings or any pre-planned employee events and sticking to it can go a long way towards minimizing disruptions. Also, allowing employees to work off-hours (where possible) can provide them with more focus-time and thereby mitigate the disruptions that come during peak hours.
At the end of the day, employees that practice time management will be more engaged and more satisfied with their own performance at work. It’s a true win-win scenario for both the employee and employer that produces benefits to all sides. As a side benefit, most employees will recognize the role that their organization played in making their efforts a success, and will pay them back in the form of loyalty and dedication to their work. Time management won’t solve every employee engagement problem, mind you, but it’s a rare point where collaboration is not only possible – but good for everyone involved.