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Helping employees to move beyond periods of poor employee experience and foster creativity

People’s employee experience (EX) can be categorised into five types of periods, which could occur over a single day or over the course of multiple days. This is the conclusion of a groundbreaking study from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Each type of experience either boosts or hinders creativity at work to a certain degree. Researchers examined more than 11,000 surveys in which employees shared their everyday workplace experiences and rated their workdays on several key factors that boost creativity (for instance: freedom or organisational support) or block creativity (for instance: time pressure or conservative attitudes).  

The five types of periods that describe workplace experiences are:  

  • Toxic periods: characterised by a combination of few boosters and high blockers. Conflicts appear and productivity takes a hit. These periods are rare and account for only 8% of workdays. 
  • Disengaged periods: both stimulant and obstacle factors are low. People feel disconnected. This applies to about 10% of workdays. 
  • Typical periods: both stimulant and obstacle factors are at average levels. This is the most common type of period, and applies to around 34% of workdays, 
  • Ideal periods: days in this type of period are high in stimulant factors and low in obstacles. Creativity flourishes, and people are most motivated to innovate. About 30% of all days are of this type. 
  • Crisis periods: a mix of high stimulant and obstacle factors, similar to workdays in toxic and ideal periods combined. Employees feel their creative performance is high during these periods, but the reality might differ. These periods represent about 19% of all days. 

“Essentially, we researched how employees’ work environments and their creativity ebbs and flows over time” said one of the researchers. “It is important to understand and manage these daily workplace experiences to improve employee creative performance. As many contemporary organizations will attest, this is an area that is increasingly important for companies to develop a distinct competitive advantage”. 

A significant conclusion of the study is that people tend to get stuck in one kind of period. In other words: when employees go through a difficult time at work, management needs to take care that this negative experience gets ‘reset’ as soon as possible, so that people do not fall into a rut. One of the researchers concludes: “Inevitably, crisis days will occur and that's not a bad thing. However, ensuring these days turn back into ideal days - not into toxic or disengaged days - is key.” 

Organisations cannot guarantee that employees will never go through difficult periods, but with the help of modern EX-management techniques, it is possible to quickly detect these periods, and to intervene and to help people find new approaches to manage the interaction between their personality and their work context. In other words, to help employees to not get stuck in a negative interaction that negatively influences future interactions.  

Modern solutions that are built on behavioural science and people-centred technology, such as Welliba’s EX+, can get organisations started with helping employees to manage their own EX. These solutions allow employees to self-monitor their experience as they go through different types of periods at work. Employees can also receive personalised advice on how to improve their experience as they deal with problems at work. Meanwhile, organisations can use aggregate data to evaluate how groups of employees are doing and intervene when a group of employees is going through a period that negatively influences their EX. Because Welliba takes rigorous measures to protect employee data, the privacy of individual employees is fully protected.  

Today, most organisations are facing some degree of uncertainty and complexity. Their employees will increasingly face challenging circumstances and periods that risk lowering their EX, but with the right kind of support they can learn new skills to manage their EX, even during an occasional inevitable period of crisis. A better employee experience will increase the creative potential of organisations, which could be an essential competitive advantage in times of uncertainty and complexity. 

Would you like to find out more? Click here for more information on EX+.

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