08 March 2016

Bringing Back Synergy: When the total is greater than the sum of its parts

Dr. Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCR Global Vice President of Workplace Vitality™ MARS DRINKS™

Let’s bring back synergy, where 1+1+1 = way more than 3. You know the concept, when outcomes produced by individuals who come together successfully are better than they could have been, had the individuals’ work been completed alone and simply combined. This is what we want for organizations – places where people come together and achieve great things. It’s this synergistic effect that is also a great way to describe Workplace Vitality™, a workplace that is vibrant, thriving and alive with potential at the intersection of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity.

It’s not just about engagement. It’s not just about well-being. Or collaboration. Or productivity. It’s about all of these. Here’s what we mean…

Early in my career, a brilliant leader told me, “When you push on the system, the system pushes back.” Bob was a master at reading organizations, making sense of their complexities, and creating solutions. He was operating at that intersection of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity.

But it’s exactly the complexity of organizations that can overwhelm us, make us avoid the really big challenges, or even make us run for cover. Want to update the physical environment? Better ensure you have clarity on the organization’s processes and how you want departments to work together. Looking for a better way to keep leaders connected to their peers? Don’t overlook reward systems and how they are measured. Planning to renew your company’s culture? Remember the critical role that workplace drinks play in sending messages about what you value and how you expect people to interact.

So how to lead and manage through this complexity?

Organizations that want to motivate, inspire, and tap employees’ greatest productivity have to focus on all the parts of the whole. But the good news is that the interplay of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity can work in our favor toward building Workplace Vitality™.

In our research , we found that multiple elements of engagement were interconnected. When people were passionate about their work, challenged by their jobs, and felt their roles were important, they were significantly more likely to exert extra effort in their work. Want to tap people’s passion? Figure out what they love by learning about them, listening to their ideas over coffee, and challenging them with work that adds value to the organization.

Here’s another: We also found that when people had the opportunity to grow and develop and felt fulfilled in their work-life (functions of well-being), they tended to report more interest and enthusiasm about their jobs (functions of engagement). Want to provide the opportunity for learning, growth, and fulfillment? Provide mentorship opportunities – informally, inviting associates to coffee chats with leaders or formally, where mentors address a key topic over an afternoon latte on a monthly basis with 1-3 mentees who have been assigned to them.

And another: When people felt committed to a team goal, and fully contributed to it (collaboration), they were in turn more likely to feel passionately about their individual work (engagement), and take pride in the work they produced (productivity). Given these dynamics, consider the power of pulling a team together regularly over coffee to reinforce goals, connect their individual chats of work to the whole, and ensure alignment toward outcomes.

The interrelationships between engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity actually makes things easier – and workplace beverages have a role to play. We can create synergy by focusing on the elements that make up Workplace Vitality.

We’ve described these points of leverage – as well as examples of where organizations are successfully putting these into practice – in a brief white paper, which is available to you here.

Tags: Workplace Vitality