Research Shows a Simple Way to Increase Your Engagement at Work

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Parke and Justin Weinhardt for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.

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It is no secret that many employees face work environments that are not very engaging. A 2016 poll by the Gallup Organization shows that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. And when it comes to enhancing employees’ engagement (i.e., energy, enthusiasm, and focus), much of the popular narrative has focused on organizational factors such as job design, leadership, or culture. But these factors are often outside of an employee’s control. As a result, beyond trying to find the right fit professionally, the overall picture seems to suggest that employees are at the mercy of their organizations and bosses when it comes to how engaged they will be at work.

In a research article in The Journal of Applied Psychology, we and our colleagues (Andrew Brodsky at The University of Texas at Austin, Subrahmaniam Tangirala at the University of Maryland, and Sanford DeVoe at the University of California Los Angeles) investigated how employees can take back more control over their work engagement through better self-management. We found that increasing your engagement and productivity at work could be as simple as making a plan for the day. But these positive effects depended on what type of plan employees used and how many interruptions or disruptions they faced in their day-to-day work.

We investigated two types of daily planning and how they influence employee engagement in dynamic work environments. The first type is commonly known as time-management planning, which involves making to-do lists, prioritizing and scheduling tasks, and ultimately managing one’s time. Despite its popularity and acclaimed benefits, little research has actually investigated this type of planning in real work contexts.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Michael Parke is an assistant professor of organizational behavior at London Business School. His research explores how organizations can more effectively engage employees to improve creativity and overall effectiveness at work. Find him on Twitter @michaelparke.

Justin Weinhardt is an associate professor of organizational behavior and human resources at Haskayne School of Business. His research explores how employees can be more motivated, make better decisions, and stay mentally healthy at work. Find him on Twitter @OrgPsychologist.

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