Personal touches boost employee engagement

Employees' psychological ownership of their jobs, and the emotional connection with their practice that creates, may have a more profound effect on their performance than realized, according to a post from Harvard Business Review.

"Ample research has focused on how feeling ownership of a specific entity (such as ideas or a workspace, group, or organization) influences behaviors related to that entity," wrote Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School. "But there is more: My research suggests that ownership also triggers a 'mindset of possession' that, once activated, persists over various contexts and tasks and influences later choices."

For example, Gino cited a study demonstrating that employees with a workspace to call their own are more generous with coworkers. For the experiment, participants divided into two groups--cubicle "owners" and "residents"--were asked to allocate $10 between themselves and others in other cubicles. Participants who were "owners" voluntarily parted with more money than those who believed they were borrowing a shared cubicle.

Although it might not be practical to give all practice staffers their own office space, even small opportunities to personalize their area, such as with their own posters or photos or choosing their own work title, can dramatically improve their sense of engagement and happiness with their work, according to Gino, and boost their productivity as a result.

A sense of ownership doesn't apply to just physical items, however, but also to ideas. In another experiment, simply asking people to think of their jobs in terms of particular projects or ideas they felt ownership over, compared to being asked to describe how they commonly spend their days at work, resulted in the first "ownership" group stepping up to help colleagues significantly more.

Other ways to leverage this concept include asking new hires to "think and write about who they were when they were at their best" and providing them with clothing and badges with their own names rather than the practice's name, FiercePracticeManagement reported previously.

To learn more:
- read the post