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Researchers Scrutinize How Employers Can Encourage Workers to Meet Full Potential

  • Researchers look at experience of nurses at a large university hospital during COVID-19 to assess which strategies improve worker effectiveness
  • Study builds on previous survey which found that only a small share of workers is operating at their full potential
  • Researchers share tips on how to improve employee effectiveness

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for both employers and employees, as both grappled with how to address challenges and deal with added stress. A group of researchers who previously looked at how managers can help workers meet their full potential took the opportunity to see if these strategies remained applicable during the unique circumstances of the pandemic.

Two Yale researchers and the founder of the Faas Foundation, an organization supporting nonprofits, previously conducted a survey of 14,500 workers in 2017 and found that only 15 percent said they were working at their full potential. The trio revisited this research by looking at what factors were helping or harming the effectiveness of nurses at a large university hospital.

  • The 2017 survey identified several company qualities that supported employees in meeting their full potential, including setting clear expectations, not overwhelming workers with too many rules or meetings, and encouragement of creative problem solving
  • The analysis of nurse performance found that uncertainty over how to address challenges and discomfort in adding input inhibited effectiveness
  • Greater clarity over the COVID-19 crisis also led to reduced anxiety and more supervisor encouragement of strategies such as creative problem solving
  • Researchers say leaders can improve employee performance by creating a trusting company culture, reducing bureaucratic demands on workers, and developing their own emotional intelligence to better understand employee needs

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