Discretionary Effort In The Workplace
Whether a customer or colleague, or maybe a friend or family member. I’m sure you can all recall times when you went the extra mile for someone and your reasons for doing so, maybe to feel better about yourselves, or in response to some good treatment you received from another party.
Whatever the reasons, with the right conditions we can all raise our effort in a similar manner at work. In the workplace this is called discretionary effort.
Examples of discretionary effort at work
Examples of workers going the extra mile can be quite generic, from staff regularly working above their contracted work hours to those taking on additional training to gain more skills. However, they could also be more specific, such as the above and beyond actions taken by an individual working in a particular department, or an employee helping another colleague.
For example, if you worked in a customer service department, it could simply involve you making an unexpected follow up call to a customer to check everything is still fine following a problem you solved for them a week earlier. Besides their surprise at hearing from you again, such action could culminate in that customer taking out an extra product or service from you.
Alternatively, it could involve a staff member helping out another colleague. In this scenario the individual could be struggling or falling behind with a task due to it’s technical nature. By helping and equipping them with fresh knowledge to solve their problem and meet their deadline, not only will that individual feel better, but such random kindness can help to create a culture of support and trust within that organisation.
Discretionary effort and employee engagement
Staff engagement, which looks at the strength of an employee’s mental and emotional connection to an organisation, is another popular area of examination in the field of employee relations. And it’s strongly related to discretionary effort.
Essentially, unless an employee is engaged and motivated enough to work, they won’t display any discretionary effort. In fact, you can argue that employee engagement levels within an organisation can be measured purely in terms of how much discretionary effort staff put in. In other words, how much energy, effort and focus are they dedicating to the work they need to complete?
It therefore makes sense to improve engagement levels within your business. And the best way to do that is through a survey and acting on the staff feedback you receive back.
An employee engagement survey is an ideal way to measure how connected and committed staff feel to your business and what areas you need to improve.
From internal restructuring and shifting around people and departments within an office, to employees leaving and new recruits joining. Things can change very quickly in a business and depending on the severity of that change it can impact employee engagement. Therefore, it makes sense to run additional surveys to pick up this sentiment and the best way to do this is with a smaller and more frequently distributed survey called a pulse survey. The quicker you can respond and act on staff feedback, the sooner you’ll be able to improve engagement levels.
How to inspire discretionary effort
Surveys are really effective to identify what staff are thinking. However, there are also additional things you can be doing to help inspire more discretionary effort from your staff.
Here’s some ideas to think about:
Maintaining discretionary effort requires ongoing employer commitment
From increased productivity and growth to an improved work culture and reduced employee churn. There are many benefits that discretionary effort can bring to a business. But without ongoing commitment from employers to maintain the conditions necessary to encourage this, levels of discretionary effort can quickly fall.
Subsequently, with an ongoing plan of activities and feedback data gathering and analysis through employee surveys, employers can put themselves in the best possible position to engage and motivate their staff and encourage the discretionary effort needed for greater success.