Employee Engagement: How Available are you at Work?

“People have asked us to explain a little bit more about the three pillars of Employee Engagement and why they are so important, i.e.: Psychological Safety, Meaningfulness and Psychological Availability. This blog represents the third of three explaining why we strongly support the notion that it’s all about creating a safe, meaningful and fairly demanding workplace.”

Psychological Availability

According to (Kahn, 1990, p. 705), there are three dimensions of psychological conditions which determine employee engagement and ultimately – performance. These are psychological meaningfulness, psychological safety and psychological availability. The dimension of psychological meaningfulness means having a “sense of return on investments of self in role performances.” Whereas psychological safety entails; “sense of being able to show and employ self without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status or career.” The psychological availability dimension means to have a “sense of possessing the physical, emotional, and psychological resources necessary for investing self in role performances.”

Psychological Availability and Work Engagement: The Moderating Role of Sex and Race is a study published in 2016 which was done by Karolina Laba and Madelyn Geldenhuys. The study sought to measure the relationship of race and sex as control factors of psychological availability on work engagement across South Africa. The study investigated how both genders are readily psychologically available. The study proved that there is a correlation between psychological availability and work engagement. Furthermore, women are more engaged and indicate higher levels of psychological availability.

When it comes to psychological availability, which is also termed as a characteristic of having the physical, emotional and mental resources to perform one’s tasks; this element forms the foundation for solid employee engagement.

Employers are always looking for employees who can bring their whole beings to work. As an example we can look at, absenteeism, which is defined as “an employee’s intentional or habitual absence from work.” Absenteeism alone costs a company in the Netherlands on average 1.610 euro per employee per year. And organizations that have highly engaged employees have 37% lower absenteeism. But when it comes to absenteeism, we believe this topic does not simply mean anyone who is physically absent. An employee can go to work but be intentionally absent by being spiritually ‘out of it’, for instance due to work-life imbalance.

To answer the question; how available are you at work? There are several indicators that can help answer the question. These include feeling capable and ready to direct your physical, intellectual as well as emotional energies into your role performance. Automatically, this means giving everything into your work role.

Whether you are available or not depends on your personal distractions. Individual distractions are listed by (Kahn, 1990, p.705) the type of influence that more or less preoccupies your role performance. To conquer individual distractions, you might need to tap into your physical energy. Physical energies are those pre existing pillars which function as resources. Whenever you are feeling low, you can lean into your physical energy to get your energy levels up. In any case, everyone has emotional energies, such that if the physical aspect is not enough or not readily available, it is possible to lean on the emotional energy. For example, when you’re feeling physically unavailable, listening to your favorite song. It might be one that ignites your soul and makes you be in the ‘happy go’ mood. Wayne Baker explains that the more you spread physical and emotional energy to your coworkers, the better everyone feels and performs in the workplace. If one person comes to work without any positivity, their negativity might just affect the entire workplace. The amount of energy that you have at work depends largely on your colleagues. If they are invigorated and feeling engaged, the energy spreads to everyone in the office. The same goes with a day when your coworkers feel disengaged. In the workplace, everyone’s energy is related to each other.

Conclusion

There is a strong positive relationship between psychological availability and engagement. Your psychological condition determines your work engagement. In turn, your work engagement reflects on the company performance. Thus, employers should always look for employees who can bring their whole beings to work and who have a great “sense of possessing the physical, emotional, and psychological resources necessary for investing self in role performances.” In that respect, the crucial factors to being available and do your work the best you can, are, a healthy work-life balance and an engaging workplace.

Written by: Aleksander Tchernov