How to use psychology to increase workplace productivity
Here are 5 ways to make your workplace better and your workforce happier.
- "Productivity of work isn't the responsibility of a worker yet of a manager," said famed management consultant Peter Drucker.
- Psychology tells us again and again that emotionally intelligent leadership, which recognizes the humanity in others, is a driving force of productivity.
- Here are 5 simple but effective ways to increase performance and make a positive impact in your workplace.
Managers make the common mistake of setting the same standards for all their employees. The truth is that employees do not think and act the same. When unavoidable circumstances present themselves, each employee will have a different reaction. This concept is known as behavioral economics.
To increase employee productivity, you need to understand their individual needs. However, do not assume your employees have the same wants and needs. Your goal should be to understand the psychology of your employees so that you can come up with ways to make them happier and more productive.
Below are the top five ways to use psychology to increase workplace productivity.
Customized employee appreciation gifts
Employee appreciation gifts can be an excellent incentive to drive your employees to work harder. But don't just issue standard mass-produced gifts that are the same for everyone. If you offer specially customized employee appreciation gifts instead, then your employees will think of them on a more personal level.
For example, if your employees are big baseball fans, you could reward them with baseball trading pins that have their names on them. Perhaps you know of an employee who has been open with you about their desire to quit smoking. You could give them a motivational PVC patch with a message about strength as a way to encourage them toward their goal.
Personalized gestures show employees that you care about their individual interests, struggles, wants, and desires. That gives them greater motivation to do better in the workplace.
Encourage employee feedback
Your team will have a better attitude about their workplace if they feel like they can make a valuable contribution to its organizational structure and how it's being run. If employees have no say in the rules and procedures of their workplace, they could quickly develop resentment toward their managers.
Consider having an employee feedback box in the workplace. It is a box where employees can submit workplace suggestions and criticisms to their employers anonymously. They can fill out a suggestion form and slip it into the box. Then you can review the suggestions and address them accordingly.
Managers often get too narrowly focused on telling employees what needs to be done in the workplace. That's why managers need to acknowledge the accomplishments of their employees because it reinforces the great job they are doing.
If employees never hear any compliments or acknowledgements regarding their positive contributions to the workplace, they might start not to care as much anymore. It will cause their work performance to decline drastically. So, always give praise to your employees when they complete their tasks successfully or make an outstanding contribution.
Encourage break time
Managers who force their employees to keep working long hours without a break are doing a disservice to their company. If employees don't get a break after a certain period, their productivity in the workplace will diminish. You need to encourage your employees to take periodic breaks to rest and recharge themselves mentally and physically.
Offer more work flexibility
The digital age is called the "age of convenience" for a reason. Several research studies show that employees are more productive if their employers give them the flexibility to work from home.
It is easier for someone to get out of bed and hop right onto their computer to get to work. Employees want this kind of flexibility, especially if they have to watch their children at home and cannot afford a babysitter. If you can offer them this kind of flexibility, then it will ease their stress and let them be more focused on their work.
A new study explains how a chaotic region just outside a black hole's event horizon might provide a virtually endless supply of energy.
- In 1969, the physicist Roger Penrose first proposed a way in which it might be possible to extract energy from a black hole.
- A new study builds upon similar ideas to describe how chaotic magnetic activity in the ergosphere of a black hole may produce vast amounts of energy, which could potentially be harvested.
- The findings suggest that, in the very distant future, it may be possible for a civilization to survive by harnessing the energy of a black hole rather than a star.
The ergosphere<p>The ergosphere is a region just outside a black hole's event horizon, the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape. But light and matter just outside the event horizon, in the ergosphere, would also be affected by the immense gravity of the black hole. Objects in this zone would spin in the same direction as the black hole at incredibly fast speeds, similar to objects floating around the center of a whirlpool.</p><p>The Penrose process states, in simple terms, that an object could enter the ergosphere and break into two pieces. One piece would head toward the event horizon, swallowed by the black hole. But if the other piece managed to escape the ergosphere, it could emerge with more energy than it entered with.</p><p>The movie "Interstellar" provides an example of the Penrose process. Facing a fuel shortage on a deep-space mission, the crew makes a last-ditch effort to return home by entering the ergosphere of a blackhole, ditching part of their spacecraft, and "slingshotting" away from the black hole with vast amounts of energy.</p><p>In a recent study published in the American Physical Society's <em><a href="https://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.103.023014" target="_blank">Physical Review D</a>, </em>physicists Luca Comisso and Felipe A. Asenjo used similar ideas to describe another way energy could be extracted from a black hole. The idea centers on the magnetic fields of black holes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Black holes are commonly surrounded by a hot 'soup' of plasma particles that carry a magnetic field," Comisso, a research scientist at Columbia University and lead study author, told <a href="https://news.columbia.edu/energy-particles-magnetic-fields-black-holes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Columbia News</a>.</p>
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration<p>While there might not be immediate applications for the theory, it could help scientists better understand and observe black holes. On an abstract level, the findings may expand the limits of what scientists imagine is possible in deep space.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Thousands or millions of years from now, humanity might be able to survive around a black hole without harnessing energy from stars," Comisso said. "It is essentially a technological problem. If we look at the physics, there is nothing that prevents it."</p>
A popular and longstanding wave of thought in psychology and psychotherapy is that diagnosis is not relevant for practitioners in those fields.
Knowing what to do is one thing, doing it is another.
- Everybody knows about the trolley problem, and its variations provide the source of endless discussion.
- However, few people consider the problem holistically. Would you actually be able to pull the lever?
- A new essay reminds us that many philosophies have a holistic approach to moral problems that we should consider.
The difference between thinking about the trolley problem and pulling the lever<p> Dr. Sin, an Assistant Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong, argues that the scenario described in the trolley problem is not a mundane occurrence but an extreme event that will require an instantaneous response utilizing not only a person's ethical convictions but also their physical strength, psychological composure, and other capacities. </p><p>He turns to certain Eastern philosophies and their often holistic approaches to ethical problems to explain this perspective. The <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/japanese-zen/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zen Buddhism</a> of the Samurai and the personal philosophy of martial arts legend Bruce Lee as exemplified by Jeet Kune Do, both approach fights as "extreme events" which cannot be overcome by just knowing what moves to make. A skilled martial artist must also remain calm during a battle, be able to strictly concentrate on the task at hand, and be able to differentiate between the actions done during practice and what is necessary during an actual fight.</p><p>A great fighter is not just one who wins, but one who does so well, with masterful control of themselves and their actions as they engage in something most people actively try to avoid. Dr. Sin connects this multifaceted understanding of fighting to how an individual must approach pulling or not pulling the lever in the trolley problem:</p><p> "<em>The greatness or goodness of an action can't be judged purely by looking at its consequences, or by the type of action that it falls under in certain deontological categories. In addition, we need to consider the features of the moral battlefield that the agent is fighting against; these might involve how much blame/guilt that an agent is willing to carry, how demanding the situation is from the agent's viewpoint, how great the obstacles are for him to overcome, etc. In the trolley case, we can tell the difference between better or worse responses as some agents are able to maintain composure in an extreme situation and some aren't. A panicked or chaotic response may not mean much ethically, even if it saved more lives than it killed."</em></p>
Three philosophies and their stances on complex moral problems<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yHcntfFN9FY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> <br> </p><p>Unlike utilitarianism or deontology, which are primarily concerned with showing you what to do in a particular situation, the philosophies Dr. Sin examines, including Zen Buddhism, Bruce Lee's take on Jeet Kune Do, and <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/confucius/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Confucianism</a>, often aim for the "practical refinement of life" rather than writing a decision process for difficult questions. </p><p>As Dr. Sin explains, this means these schools lend themselves to more holistic interpretations of approaching ethical problems and extraordinary events:</p><p> "<em>While Jeet Kune Do prepares people for a physical encounter with their enemies in the street, a bar, or carpark, Bruce Lee emphasizes the importance of knowing oneself through the confrontations. The</em></p><p><em>doctrines of Zen Buddhism were interpreted similarly by traditional Japanese swordsmen. But the practice and rigid discipline in Zen Buddhism is primarily proposed for the sake of self-realization: for practitioners to 'overcome the barrier between life and death (liaoshengjuesi</em><em>了生決死</em><em>).' Judgements about what people should do in particular cases stem from this direction of concern. The Zen Buddhists or traditional Confucians are not so interested in analyzing the balance of reasons in particular cases, or testing the consistency of ethical principles as such.</em></p><p><em>In the Analects, Confucius sometimes says different things to different students, seemingly contradicting himself. But he doesn't really care about demonstrating the overall structure of his "doctrines." He cares more about whether his words and deeds can help improve his students' characters, or highlight their mistakes when they arise. For Confucius, the objective of learning is largely about acquiring the know how for someone to become a better father, son, minister, etc. Confucius, in his teaching, does not like to engage in arguments. He prefers his students see the flaws themselves in their own reflection and correct them silently."</em></p><p>When asked if the principle of treating some ethical questions holistically went beyond fights and runaway trolleys, Dr. Sin largely agreed:</p><p> "<em>You can say that all performances should be evaluated holistically. We should always look beyond the actions, or their consequences, and study the territory in which the persons perform those actions. By 'territory,' I mean the kind of people the agents are, their histories, other features of the situation that are pertinent to them."</em></p>
How can I use these insights?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/l0-6qTVTsxE" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Dr. Sin points out that many Zen monks apply this understanding in day to day life:</p><p> "<em>Some Japanese Zen monks adopt an attitude of seriousness to handle small things and routine matters. Apart from its intrinsic values (to achieve a small moral triumph), the practice itself is useful for self-cultivation."</em></p><p>There is no real reason that you have to be a monk to do that. He also suggests taking a look at the key texts of these philosophies. The <em><a href="http://confucius-1.com/analects/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Analects</a> </em>of Confucius and <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Tao-Jeet-Kune-Do-Expanded/dp/0897502027" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Tao of Jeet Kune Do</a> </em>by Bruce Lee, for example, both provide thought-provoking and useful ideas. </p><p> And for those wondering how a Zen Master or Confucian Sage might act when faced with an out of control trolley car, Dr. Sin reminds us that they would consider that to be the wrong question:</p><p>"<em>For, the 'solution' is dependent on the readiness of the agents in the case. As Nietzsche says, strong people can digest their experiences (including deeds and misdeeds) as they digest</em><em>their meals. If the people are not ready, there is not much to be said here."</em></p><p>He went on to suggest a Zen monk might hit you with a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keisaku" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">keisaku</a> for asking and that Bruce Lee might see how you react to a fury of fists stopping near your face.</p><p>While it is entertaining and often intellectually stimulating to consider what the right thing to do in the situation imagined by the trolley problem and its endless variations would be, Dr. Sin and the thinkers he references remind us that it is often not enough to merely know what we should do but also to have the capacity to act on that information. A total response to the extreme situation imagined in the trolley problem will require various skills that may need active cultivation before such an event occurs.</p>
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