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Study says engagement doesn’t necessarily beget productivity

(BUSINESS NEWS) If productivity is the name of the game, make sure you’re not just spinning your wheels. Let’s discuss the difference between engagement and productivity.

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Being productive is the spice of life

Does your business boast in its weekly newsletters about having a high level of employee engagement? A Harvard study indicates that sought-after “engagement” might be a snake oil statistic.

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Productivity is widely accepted as modifying the amount of work one accomplishes. Low production correlates to less work accomplished in a predetermined timeframe, while a high level of productivity pertains to an exceptional amount of work transpiring. Or, to put it technically, the idea that one is “killin’ it.”

Engagement, on the other hand, is a bit of a catch-all term. If you take a look at the way “engagement” is used in context the bulk of the time, you’d be justified in assuming it means “paying attention, or perhaps more accurately, “having one’s attention held.”

This is an important distinction, since the latter interpretation roughly translates into extrinsic motivation supplied by the business or institution in question, while the former correlates to intrinsic employees’ motivation to not suck at their jobs.

As you can see, there’s a weird amount of disparity between the two terms.

The statement “I had a productive day today” doesn’t necessitate elaboration, while saying “I had an engaging day today” is going to leave half of the people you tell wishing you a tearful “Congratulations!” while the other half stare blankly.

Nevertheless, engagement and being productive are often used interchangeably, to no small amount of confusion.

Some Clarification for Everyone

This is where the Harvard Business Review’s study comes into play. According to the study, an even 25 percent of the employees examined who were working short weeks had a high level of engagement, while a slightly higher number of employees—28 percent—had a high level of engagement during longer work weeks. These numbers were offset by 25 percent of employees who worked short weeks and 22 percent of the long work week workers having a distinctly low level of engagement.

If engagement does indeed equal productivity (and vice versa), shouldn’t we see more employees from the longer work weeks having a higher level of productivity?

Fixing the Problem

A business should serve to support and encourage both engagement and productivity. Click To Tweet

Focusing solely on making sure your employees like and pay attention to the work they’re doing seems like it will result in decreased productivity, while enforcing total productivity is likely to result in a poor work culture and, eventually, preventable mistakes.

Instead of praising your high engagement (or productivity) and leaving the other out, why not promote them as core but distinct pillars of your business?

Clearly, the road to fully understanding what constitutes perfect engagement and how to weave it into being productive is a long one.For now, though, simply understanding the specificity of language and applying it appropriately is a huge step in the right direction.

#killinit

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove’s Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Business News

Class action lawsuit claims Tesla plant is a hotbed of racism

(BUSINESS NEWS) Tesla is being hit with another lawsuit, this time alleging discrimination at one of their plants. No wonder Musk wants to get to Mars…

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Groundbreaking automaker Tesla may be the future of automotive transportation, but when it comes to discrimination, some say the company seems to be living in the past.

This week, the company received notice that they would be brought to court by a group of black workers filing a class action lawsuit. The suit states that the Tesla’s Fremont, California production plant is a “hotbed of racist behavior.”

The suit was filed by former employee Marcus Vaughn in the California state court in Oakland and is the third lawsuit filed this year by black workers and former workers from Tesla.

Vaughn, who began working in the factory in April, says that his supervisors regularly referred to him using racial slurs. When he wrote a complaint to the human resources department, they were unresponsive. Then in October, Vaughn was fired for “not having a positive attitude.”

Tesla is denying the claims, saying that they did investigate the incidents, and fired three workers as a result. The company went so far as to post a statement called “Hotbed of Misinformation” on its website on Wednesday, saying that the company is “absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind.”

In May, Musk sent an email to all employees telling them that should never “allow someone to feel excluded, uncomfortable or unfairly treated.” However, he also said that workers should “be thick-skinned.”

Vaughn’s lawyer, Lawrence Organ, who also sued Tesla on behalf of three black Tesla workers last month, responded that “The law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin. When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce.”

Tesla is also facing lawsuits claiming that the company discriminates against gay and older workers, and last month, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union filed a complaint to the federal labor board, saying that Tesla had fired workers for supporting unionization.

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Business News

Harvard digs into how several women broke the glass ceiling

(BUSINESS NEWS) At an increasing pace, the glass ceiling is being shattered, but what did it ACTUALLY take for individual women to do just that?

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More than ever, women are breaking the glass ceiling in businesses. However, progress is still very slow, with the number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies only increasing little by little each year.

The Rockefeller Foundations’ 100×25 initiative hopes to have 100 female CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies by 2025. To this end, they’ve given a grant to Korn Ferry, a recruiting firm, to find “research-based tools and strategies” for launching more women into executive positions.

Korn Ferry teamed up with Harvard Business Review researchers to interview and assess 57 female CEOs to find out the plot points and personality traits led to their business success. From these observations, they’ve made some crucial recommendations for how companies can get more women into top positions. Here’s what they discovered.

First of all, the study found that women had to work harder and longer to get to the top than men. They held more positions, worked for more companies, and were an average of four years older than their male counterparts.

Secondly, the study also found that female CEOs were motivated by different factors than male CEOs. They were less interested in status and rewards than they were in collaboration and in participating in something that would contribute positively to company culture or to the community as a whole.

The study also identified four common characteristics of female CEOs: courage, risk-taking, resilience, and managing ambiguity. Breaking the glass ceiling in and of itself required women to face fears, take on challenges, and stay in the fight even when discouraged.

Despite these powerful personality traits, female CEOs were found to be more humble than male CEOs. They spent less time promoting themselves and were more likely to be thankful for their coworkers and supporters, and to give credit to others for their successes or their company’s successes. Female CEOs saw themselves as a part of a team and understood that no single person was responsible for defining the company or making it successful.

The study discovered that very few female CEOs had envisioned themselves making it that far. Only five grew up dreaming of being a CEO, and two-thirds said that they didn’t even think about being a CEO until a mentor or boss encouraged them.

Lastly, the study found that female CEOs had strong backgrounds in STEM, as well as business, finance, and economics. None of the CEOs started their careers in human resources, a department that is often heavily staffed by women.

From these findings, the researchers made several suggestions to strengthen the “pipeline” of women into top positions. This included identifying women with potential earlier and giving them more opportunities and guidance, including mentors and sponsors. It also suggested describing leadership roles in terms that resonate with women by showing how the role will give them a chance to add value to the business and do something positive in the world.

Finally, the researchers warned to beware of the “glass cliff,” wherein women are only given leadership opportunities when the company is in crisis or when there is a high chance of failure. Instead, companies are encouraged to give women a chance when the brand is doing well, or if you must put them in a high-risk position, help them bounce back so that it doesn’t ruin their career.

Read more on the study at Harvard Business Review.

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Business News

How to revamp an overly long job hunt

(BUSINESS) If you’ve been on the job hunt for weeks or months, we know that can be extremely frustrating – the best way out of the rut is to revamp your efforts.

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The job hunt can be an extensive and exhausting process. However, to make it suck a little less, try and change your thinking to make it more of a learning and growth experience, rather than an end-all-be-all hunt.

As you know, the basics of the job search can be broken down into: resume, cover letter, skills, and networking. Adjusting your view on each of these aspects can change the course of your search.

Your resume and cover letter will most likely be the first impression an employer receives from you. Make it stand out. That’s a vague statement, yes. But, putting in just a little bit more effort with your cover letter and resume will make a huge difference.

Tailor each resume and cover letter to fit the exact position you’re applying for. Read the position description in depth, research the company history and culture, and review the company’s social media.

All of this digging can be used as fodder for the content of your cover letter. It can also help your resume as you can make an appropriate list of skills. Also, if the company’s website shows a value on education and volunteering, you can know to expand on those sections within your resume.

Speaking of volunteering, use the free time you have during your job search to volunteer. Not only is it beneficial for those you’re helping, but it will also give you purpose and expand on your skill set – therefore, helping your resume in the process.

With this in mind, you can also fill your free time by taking an online class to enhance your skill set. This also has the potential of setting you apart from the competition.

Lastly, use your free time for networking. Do some research via LinkedIn and find someone who has a position similar to what you’re looking for and ask them for some advice.

While you’re at it, seek out people in your circle and ask them about their career paths. You’ll come to see that the “path” is not always a straight line, and many people have been in your shoes.

Which brings us to the defeating part of job hunting – the word “no”. The hardest part to deal with is repeated rejection.

When you’re searching high and low for the perfect fit, you begin thinking that it must come so easily to everyone else and it must be something you’re doing wrong. Unless you’re an ex-con who consistently no shows to work, this probably isn’t the case.

This may be difficult to keep in mind, but it’s important to remember that the rejection may not be at all personal. There may have been some changes within the company where they decided to go another way for whatever reason, having nothing to do with you.

If you’d really like to know, you could always try to follow up with the interviewer and ask what you can learn from the experience. Learning is one of the most valuable parts of job searching, as it can lead to growth.

Expand your search options and step outside of your comfort zone. Just because you had the position of accountant at your last job, does not mean that is the road you must follow. Take this time to think about your strengths and interests and how you would like to infuse those with your 9-to-5.

Throughout this process, you may have the desire (more than once) to give up. Try switching up rather than giving up – start from the beginning and re-groom your resume (consider hiring a resume writing service) and re-apply to roles at companies you never heard back from.

Change is scary – I will never argue that. But one last ditch option is to broaden your horizons and consider changing your career path can be the greatest choice you’ve ever made.

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