Why Employee Strengths Matter

When we first wrote Unlocking the Paradox of Plenty in 2013, most organizations in the GCC were still using a largely gap-based approach when it came to assessing and developing their employees. They focused on what was wrong instead of harnessing the positives. At the time, Positive Psychology was relatively new in the region and assessing employee strengths was not common.

Today, however, a few pioneering employers are recognizing the importance of helping employees, teams and leaders maximize their full potential by focusing on what they do best. While there is still a long way to go, a growing number of companies now have first-hand evidence and experience proving that individuals who use their strengths in their jobs are happier, less stressed, more engaged and more likely to perform well at work.

So. while traditional personality assessments and profiling methods are still prevalent in the region, many employers appreciate strength-based assessment tools like the “Thriving Index” to better understand and leverage their workforce’s potential. Here are a few reasons why:

#1 Personality is hard to change

Personality traits are relatively stable. Hence, while understanding one’s personality profile may be informative, not much can be done to change it. Strengths, on the other hand, can be developed and changed, with the necessary effort and focus. So it has great implications for talent strategy as well as learning and development programs. Simply put, strengths are like a muscle – the more you use them, the stronger they get!

#2. Focusing on strengths instills a growth mindset culture

Our research at Mercer Talent Enterprise clearly demonstrates that leaders with a growth mindset are 4x more likely to mentor, coach and develop their teams. They typically understand both strengths and limitations of individuals and are more willing to consider setbacks and failures as learning opportunities. Having a growth mindset and 21st century strengths such as grit and optimism underpin positive performance cultures.

#3. Strength-based development boosts engagement, confidence and productivity

Through our experience, we have found that employees who get the opportunity to develop their strengths are more engaged and productive in their work. We recently worked with a large global aviation client and found that employees who believed that ‘the organization recognized and valued their strengths’ had, on average, 29% higher levels of employee engagement than those who believed the contrary.

In my 18+ years of working in the field of organizational psychology and human capital, I have witnessed the tremendous impact of using a strengths-based approach in my coaching and feedback conversations with individuals across the world. Without exception, everyone seems to have a ‘aha’ moment when talking about their strengths and blindspots. They have greater understanding, excitement and personal commitment to ‘own’ their strengths and invest in their development.

I also believe that our most dominant strengths also typically become our most significant blind spots. Also, the awareness of strengths use and over-use is critical to any individual, team or organizational development journey.

In essence, we believe a strengths-driven personality assessment approach accelerates the growth of individuals, teams and the entire organization. As such, we consider employee strengths to be the building blocks of an organization’s future performance.

Why Employee Strengths Matter

Radhika Punshi is the co-founder and Managing Director of Mercer Talent Enterprise. She focuses on enhancing the competitiveness of national talent with an emphasis on youth and gender inclusion. Radhika served on founding Board of Directors of the prestigious International Positive Psychology Association and is also a regular contributor in the regional media and at world conferences.