Last year, I attended the International Positive Psychology World Congress in Orlando, where one of the most fascinating sessions that I went to was by leading strengths researcher, Michelle McQuaid, who was talking about Putting Your Strengths to Work. During the session, Michelle talked about the inaugural Strengths Challenge that she was running in 2015 and, as a strengths researcher and consultant, it really piqued my interest. The premise of the Strengths Challenge is to spend 11 minutes each day doing what you do best for one week, in order to develop your strengths and make all the difference in your job. In February, the Strengths Challenge is going to be run again and it is something that you can get involved with for free.
Benefits of Strengths in the Workplace
From my personal research and applications in the field of human strengths, I have found that developing strengths in the workplace has had a positive impact on employees, namely increased employee engagement, improved their wellbeing, led to their career being a calling more than 'just a job', improved performance, reduced the number of sick days and greater motivation. I was therefore already a firm believer that using one's strengths can have a positive impact to your job, but was intrigued about what the impact would be of only spending 11 minutes each day on your strengths.
The Strengths Revolution
The Strengths Challenge was born out of the strengths revolution, which is growing in workplaces throughout the world. In America, an independent poll of 1000 employees produced the following results:
• 50% of employees said that they had the chance to do what they do best each day at work, compared to only 20% in 2001
• 56% of employees could name their top five strengths, in contrast to approximately 33% in 2001
• 64% of employees believe that building on their strengths would make them more successful at work, whereas in 2006, 63% of employees believed that fixing their weaknesses would make them more successful at work
Keen to find a way for employees to develop their strengths that could easily be incorporated into their hectic days, the Strengths Challenge was created. From trials in workshops, it was found that spending just 11 minutes each day on what you do best, could form a new strengths habit.
- 75% of participants hadn't had a meaningful discussion about their strengths with their supervisor in the preceding 3 months
- Only 40% of participants said that their company was committed to building the strengths of their employees
- 94% who said that they strongly agreed that they felt engaged and energised at work, also had the opportunity to use their strengths at work
- Only 8% of participants reported that they strongly agreed that they had the opportunity to do what they do best at work
- As a result of taking part in the Strengths Challenge, 41% of participants felt that they had improved their opportunities to apply their strengths and do what they do best at work each day, compared to 7% who reported that this had declined
- Following the Strengths Challenge, participants reported the following about their wellbeing at work:
- 37% had increased engagement and felt energized
- 30% felt they were making more of a difference at work
- 32% felt more respected and valued
- An increase of 38% reported that they were flourishing at work