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Energising your workforce

Energising your workforce

Are you feeling energised and engaged, or do you feel down and disengaged at work? The answer could be your co-workers; or at least your relationships with them.

Individuals are known to take on the emotions and behaviours of others, when they interact with co-workers. A study from 1990 by Gerald Schoenewolf called this emotional contagion. More recently this effect was described as “relational energy”. Although the terminology might be unfamiliar, the effect is regularly experienced in the workspace.

Many professionals will be able to identify anecdotal evidence where the presence of certain co-workers improves their spirits. Perhaps it is their leadership, humour, confidence or their love for their job. Others may energise co-workers because they develop genuine connections, by showing interest in their colleague’s lives. Regardless of the reason, there can be a palpable change in behaviour and energy when certain employees enter the workplace.

All employees will be providers and recipients of relational energy. Spreading positivity amongst colleagues can improve their productivity and working relationships. The positivity is often reciprocated and employees will often devote their discretionary time to the projects and tasks of high-energy colleagues.


Improving energy, improves productivity. Therefore, it is important for management and directors to establish a high-energy environment. If you are in a leadership role, then instigating the following actions could improve the energy in your workspace.

Build Connections

Building connections can be easy for colleagues with similar designations. They share the same work-space and invitations to social occasions outside of work are considered the norm. However, there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding social etiquette, especially between employees and their managers. Therefore, leaders may benefit from a different approach. For example, gathering a team of like-minded individuals to work together on a challenging, but high-energy project within the working day.


Energising Events

Organise events which focus on creating energy and not simply delivering training, content, products or services. This could be as simple as organising group lunches or trips.

Giving Culture

Offering and receiving help creates a positive “giving” culture. This is not the same as assigning work and establishing deadlines for subordinates. It is the genuine gratitude when receiving ad-hoc help. Similarly, providing occasional help encourages co-workers to help others.

Mapping Relational Energy

Wayne Baker, professor of the University of Michigan decided to develop organisational network surveys to map the invisible network behind the organisational chart. The survey indicates how people interact and relational energy questions ask employees to identify which co-workers affect their energy. Responses can range from “highly energising” to “neutral” to “very de-energising”. The resulting data enabled Professor Baker to create energy maps of an organisation, which can identify where de-energising relationships exist and if they are emanating from leaders/management.

Creating an Energising Workspace

In addition to relational energy, creating an energising working environment can also be influenced by the physical environment. Shared workspaces can help improve interaction, collaboration and encourage the giving culture that helps energise a workspace. To find out more about how to design an office space that improves energy and productivity then get in touch with the Axis House team.

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