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How to Tap Into Employee Discretionary Energy

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Discretionary energy is the energy that an employee chooses to exert in service to coworkers or customers at work—or not. An employer pays for the fundamental tasks that he hires an employee to perform. The employee exerts the amount of energy necessary to perform the basic requirements of his or her job description.

Discretionary energy is the get-up-and-go that the employee is willing to contribute beyond the basic requirements of the job.

 Employees choose how much discretionary energy to exert on your behalf in the workplace.

The employee’s willingness to perform above and beyond the basic requirements of the job is a reflection of the employee’s willingness to engage his or her discretionary energy.

Does tapping into employee discretionary energy sound like a positive workplace contribution? It is. Discretionary energy can help you set your workplace on fire with employee performance and excitement.  As an employer, your goal is to tap into as much of it as possible. It is the oil that keeps the motor of a successful organization running.

Think of employee discretionary energy as a powerful performance enhancer. Successful managers understand the power of discretionary energy and take conscious action to tap into it at work. Managers draw forth and enable the employee to contribute their discretionary energy by creating a work environment that empowers and enables employees to choose to perform.

“Studies at a number of organizations, including leading academic institutions, have shown a clear relationship between high levels of employee engagement—colloquially defined as the willingness and ability to go the extra mile—and improved financial and operational results. But findings from our 2012 Global Workforce Study show that the steps organizations have taken to improve engagement are beginning to fall short.”

The Work Environment That Promotes the Use of Discretionary Energy

So, what’s an organization to do to encourage the kind of employee engagement that achieves these results? The work environment that encourages employee discretionary energy contribution emphasizes such components as:

Employee Discretionary Energy in Action

As an example of discretionary energy in action, Mary serves customers in a retail store. She escorts customers to a dressing room in which the customer tries on clothing. When the customer is finished, Mary brings the customer back to the floor while offering any additional assistance the customer needs.

If the customer decides to purchase an item, Mary either takes her to the cashier or rings up the purchase herself. She thanks the customer for her purchase and tells her she hopes that the customer will come back soon. Mary puts the clothes away that the customer didn’t purchase.

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