Human Energy in Organisations

New ways to develop resilience, engagement and performance


Christina Hersom

It signals engagement in organisations when employees get involved, are enthusiastic about what they do and commit themselves to the task-solving and common goal.

Since 2000, Gallup has followed the employee engagement of more than 30,000 employees in the United States. In 2018, they could conclude that only 34% of respondents were engaged, while 13% were actively disengaged. The remaining 53% were in a “not engaged” category as employees who were perhaps satisfied and showed up for work, but who probably only delivered a minimum and were quickly on their way if they got a better job offer. If we are to change these figures for the better, we need to find new ways to create engagement within our organisations.

Being engaged is linked to the human energy behind it. We can consider energy as an organisational resource that increases the capacity of employees to motivation and action so that they can do their job and achieve the goals set. Energy that is needed for the people who need to do their very best every day – when stepping in and out of roles, working long hours, solving complex problems and constantly adapting to the technology needed to do their job. Demanding circumstances can deplete energy, which can lead to an absence of commitment – a commitment that is critical for sustainable organisations that need dedicated employees. Fortunately, we can actively generate or maintain energy to build strength and resilience in the organisation.

For the past 20 years, the development of the capacity to mobilise energy in high-performing people has been explored in sports science. Each of us has the opportunity to increase performance through different human energy levels, in particular by building up our physical capacity. In addition, we also have the opportunity to develop and draw energy from the emotional and mental levels and to draw resources from a deeper sense of meaning and the values that contribute to our motivation and endurance

As management consultants working with managers, we learn that, in principle, it is often ordinary things that are crucial – no matter what level in the organisation we are working at. Everyday things you want to do more of. Things that you forgot to do. Or new things you want to introduce in your life. Something you want to think, say, feel or do differently. In connection with the development of a senior leadership group, a leader once said to me: “Well, these are the little things I have to decide to do … and then do it!” Still, intentions want something new, while behaviour tends to want to stick to the old. We are up against the brain’s tendency to use the neural paths like it usually does, and it requires directional will, meaningful rituals and a good, supportive behavioural design that is followed all the way if we are to actually increase engagement through the development of human energy in organisations.