Energy. It is something we all perceive. People with high energy can infuse a space with joy. People with gentle energies may go unnoticed. Some others have a nervous energy. You may feel anxiety in their presence. It’s a powerful form of non-verbal communication. How can we use it to our benefit in workplaces?

According to researchers at University of Michigan, the energy we perceive from people, is called relational energy, and has the ability to impact our work performance. A team lead by Dr. Wayne Baker, Ross School of Business, studied energy scientifically, and established its relationship to a range of behaviors in the workplace.

A key finding of their study: If we have energizing managers, chances are we will feel engaged at work. Focusing on relational energy between leaders and members of a large health care organization, they found that high energy of a leader increases one’s motivation at work, attention to tasks, and absorption in work activities. This translates into better productivity. A simple yet powerful finding!

However, this impact is possible, even beyond the manager-employee dynamic. The researchers believe that anyone can modulate their energy to operate at optimum levels, and impact others. If you’re keen on doing so, here are some ideas.

  • Initiate events that are energetic. There is a reason why lunch breaks are something everyone looks forward to – they have a fun vibe. Creating opportunities for the team to share enthusiasm and engage with each other, is a great way to improve productivity. Even something as simple as starting a meeting with an ice-breaker activity, will do the trick. So can celebration rituals, when a big goal is achieved.
  • Establish high quality connections. A high quality connection is one where the people involved experience mutual responsiveness, positivity, and often feel that the other person brings out the better in us. These can be cultivated at work by taking on a challenge with a group of like-minded people. We can also build them by setting time bound learning goals for ourselves, and inviting one or two people to be our coaching partners, and cheer us on. A simpler and more common practice – sharing more of our personal lives.
  • Promote a culture of giving. The practice of giving is known to have numerous positive effects on us. Research shows that it inhibits our stress reactions, increases our workplace happiness and lowers our blood pressure levels! This is referred to as the ‘warm glow’ of helping. The key piece here – the culture bit, where there is mutual give and take. Else the natural givers end up feeling exhausted.

Exploration of dynamics like energy, though new, present compelling opportunities for organizations to try something unique, to address crises, or build better cultures. After all, energy is something we can all experience!

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