How to let your employees flourish

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by Marlou

How to let your employees flourish

Employees who feel good about themselves perform better. "But this requires more than yelling: be happy!" Psychologist Matthijs Steeneveld knows what is and isn't effective in this. He works as a trainer and author on topics such as positive psychology and personal growth.

Servant leadership

Organizations who focus on employee engagement will profit from it. It it is well known that less engaged employees can have a negative influence on the atmosphere, staff turnover and the company results. "Anyone who wants to tackle this issue thoroughly must also work on the culture of the organization," says Steeneveld. 'A new culture doesn't only come from a top-down approach; you have to create it together. If you impose new rules from above, the culture will be corrupted by the rest of the organization in a way you don't want. "

Servant leadership is a term you often hear in this regard. An important characteristic of such a leader is that he listens instead of talks. Steeneveld: "The questions that you as an organization must find answers to together are: what makes your work valuable? How can people develop themselves? What is the purpose of the organization and does it match the core values of our employees? "

Hygiene factor

The concepts of satisfaction and enthusiasm are often linked, says Steeneveld. But there is a difference. "Satisfaction can be seen as a hygiene factor: if it's not there, something is wrong.

To be successful, employee satisfaction doesn't always have to grow.

Organizations sometimes tend to forget that an employee satisfaction survey is an important signal. If you ask a question - you indicate: I want to listen to your wishes. Employees count on something being done with this. So if they say: the coffee is not tasty, they expect it to taste better the following year. "

Engaged employees, on the other hand, feel challenged to grow and to develop themselves. It gives them the opportunity to flourish. "Flourishing is not the same as being happy," Steeneveld explains. "Being happy sounds more like you've reached an end point. But flourishing is a verb - it is a process, something that needs maintenance."

If you want employees to flourish, it is good to focus on the ABC's of intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Involvement and Competence:

Autonomy: give employees the space and responsibility to choose their own path;
Commitment: facilitate a good atmosphere and positive relationships, where employees are able to go somewhere with their story;
Competence: challenge employees and provide sufficient support.

Bevlogen medewerkers

Align goals

If you really want to take measures to improve employee engagement, it's important that you offer people the opportunity to do their work in their own way." But it's an important challenge for organizations. How can you align the goals of the management with what an employee wants? Management often tends to look only at profit and continuity. Those are not necessarily bad goals. But it requires some flexibility in thinking about how to also involve your employees."

Of course there are limits to what is possible, Steeneveld adds. "An accountant may prefer to do marketing. But if the marketing position is already taken, then this wish can't be fulfilled. Employees understand that not everything is possible. It already helps if management really listens. "

Mutual trust is a key concept here, Steeneveld emphasizes. "An open conversation requires psychological safety. As an employee, do you have the feeling that you can share and say anything you want? That you can ask stupid or critical questions without being judged? Or does it negatively influence your career within the organization?"

The Employee Journey 

It helps to think of the employee journey: the employee's journey within the organization. Where people are given the opportunity to shape their careers themselves. "In most organizations, career opportunities mean you can switch from a more operational job to a leadership role. But being a manager is a very different kind of position. If someone wants to focus on the content, it must be appropriately rewarded. Only this will help the organization to create more enthusiastic, more engaged employees. This is how you get people working in customer service because they are really good at customer contact. Or salesmen working for you who like to help customers with what they need. "

It often leads to better results in all kinds of areas. "Not in the least part because the employee turnover will decrease. Replacing an employee often takes a lot of time and money. You must initiate a new application procedure and the new employee must be trained. Plus there already is a shortage of certain workers. It's much more effective to retain talent within the organization."


It is quite a big step for organizations to let go of their existing patterns. But you don't have to immediately throw everything overboard to achieve greater employee engagement. Quick wins can be achieved. According to Steeneveld, the art is to look for the win-win: autonomy and meaningful work for the employees, driven and responsible employees for the organization.

"Employees also want to have fun, meaningful work and they don't think: I'm going to work on Monday to have a bad day. Or: today i will go to work and mess everything up. The same applies to bosses. The vast majority of people have good intentions. "

Tips for quick wins

There is a lot of work to be done for organizations who want to achieve higher employee engagement: listening instead of talking, communicating bottom-up instead of top-down, aligning the core values of the organization and those of the employees.

According to Matthijs there are different ways to get started. 

Here are five useful tips: 

1. It is ok to say to an employee in a calm period: go and take a day off to think about new opportunities. And let employees feel free to get to know colleagues from another department or a coach that helps them reflect on these things. 

2. Try to empower employees. Actively give compliments and emphasize someone's strengths. And give them the space to take on tasks that will suit them.

3. Some organizations also work with I-deals. This makes the employment contract more personal. "I-deals are tailor-made agreements between an employee and the organization. Not meant to establish preferential treatments, but to allow every individual to stand out as best as possible, in the interest of the organization. One person thinks education is more important, for the other working hours.

4. Many organizations have a fixed structure and year planning. This often includes a performance interview, with a bonus. But you can also think about those moments a bit differently.  

5. Make it supportive conversations, in which you, for example, consider the question: where do you get energy from? Are there things you want to delegate? Do you want to do a specific course? You can also talk about it for 15 minutes once a month - which is often much more effective than once a year.

Well, what are you waiting for! Let's work on employee engagement! Interested in talking to Plek about employee engagement? We are happy to pass by to explain more. Or have a look at our special engagement page. Can't wait Send an e-mail to Justus or Rik or call us at 020-3697577.