Benefits of Flow State in the Workplace
Conditions of flow, defined as a state in which challenges and skills are equally matched, play an extremely important role in the workplace. Because flow is associated with achievement, its development could have concrete implications in increasing workplace satisfaction and accomplishment. Flow researchers, such as Csikszentmihályi, believe that certain interventions may be performed to enhance and increase flow in the workplace, through which people would gain ‘intrinsic rewards that encourage persistence” and provide benefits. In his consultation work, Csikszentmihályi emphasizes finding activities and environments that are conducive to flow, and then identifying and developing personal characteristics to increase experiences of flow. Applying these methods in the workplace, can improve morale by fostering a sense of greater happiness and accomplishment, which may be correlated with increased performance. In his review of Mihály Csikszentmihályi’s book “Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning,” Coert Visser introduces the ideas presented by Csikszentmihályi, including “good work” in which one “enjoys doing your best while at the same time contributing to something beyond yourself.”
Csikszentmihályi argues that with increased experiences of flow, people experience “growth towards complexity”. People flourish as their achievements grow and with that comes development of increasing “emotional, cognitive, and social complexity.” Creating a workplace atmosphere that allows for flow and growth, Csikszentmihályi argues, can increase the happiness and achievement of employees. Source
In business, according to a 10-year McKinsey study, top executives reported being five times more productive in flow. This is a staggering statistic. Five times more productive is a 500 percent increase.
As Virgin CEO Richard Branson says, “In two hours [in flow], I can accomplish tremendous things … It’s like there’s no challenge I can’t meet.”
A study conducted by McKinsey found that the average person spends about 5% of working hours in flow. But if you could increase that to 20%, they estimate that overall workplace productivity would double.
In her article in Positive Psychology News Daily, Kathryn Britton examines the importance of experiencing flow in the workplace beyond the individual benefits it creates. She writes, “Flow isn’t just valuable to individuals; it also contributes to organizational goals. For example, frequent experiences of flow at work lead to higher productivity, innovation, and employee development (Csikszentmihályi, 1991, 2004). So finding ways to increase the frequency of flow experiences can be one way for people to work together to increase the effectiveness of their workplaces.”
Excerpt from FORBES Article…
How Organizations Can Create More Flow
Companies know that employee engagement has a direct implication on customer satisfaction, net promoter scores and the bottom line. But ultimately, this means that companies and employees want similar things—to feel that they are doing good work on important projects.
To help create more flow and empower employees to do their best work, organizations must shift employee engagement strategies from feel-good team-building events to creating more flow in day-to-day practices.
To begin, organizations can take the following concrete steps:
1. Build a positive environment: Offer a workspace that employees are excited to spend time in on a daily basis.
2. Enhance communication and transparency: Offer employees clear expectations.
3. Empower employees: Permit employees to optimize their own work environment in order to better deliver on stated goals.
4. Develop strong organizational structures: Manage work schedules. Ensure everyone on the team knows when projects will drop, and about major deadlines. Avoid surprises and emergencies. By focusing on the big picture, you’ll reduce the need to micromanage projects too.
5. Innovate: Promote innovation and creativity. Ensure employees have clear goals but also the flexibility to execute projects in a range of ways.