Is “fully engaged” enough? Is it truly the apex of employee satisfaction? Many organizations measure aspects of employee engagement in an effort to impact their bottom line. It’s usually captured through a 3-5-point Likert scale questioning employees on their thoughts relative to the work, their management and their organization with ratings ranging from “this pretty much sucks” to “I’m feeling awesome!”
What if we could actually capture a measure that lies beyond engagement —the moments spent working in the FLOW where we are fully immersed and engaged in the work we are doing?
Going with the flow
Think about those times outside of work when you were doing something so enjoyable, so challenging yet required great focus and concentration. Maybe you slip into your state of flow when you’re running, enjoying a favorite hobby, or reading. For me, it’s kayaking,
It’s not uncommon for me to suddenly realize that I’ve been gliding across the water effortlessly; unaware of the energy my arms were exuding or how far I’d traveled. Flow occurs when we experience a deeply satisfying connection to our activity, intrinsically motivating us to go further and making even challenging tasks seem effortless. Time passes quickly and unnoticed as we’re completely engulfed in the moment.
That’s not to say that flow can occur only in the comfort zone. On the contrary — many people (including me, I’ll admit it) can become easily bored when they’re too calm or cozy; when there’s no challenge, no adrenaline to sharpen the senses. Boredom leads to complacency and frustration. Flow, however, involves a highly engaged state of being, one where we’re focused on activities that utilize our best skills and allow us to perform at our peak.
If we’re lucky, we may occasionally experience states of flow in the workplace on a very individualized basis (if at all). When flow does occur, the organization reaps the benefits of optimal performance as a boon to the bottom line. How can organizations create the right climate? Here are three ways to inspire a foundation for flow to thrive:
Let’s look beyond engagement. Let’s strive to build organizational cultures where employees can experience the sublime state of flow as a daily work experience.
How about you?
When, and under what conditions, have you experienced the state of flow in workplace?