By: Valerie Bolden-Barrett
- Employees that go quietly about performing their work and doing it well are in the spotlight today, as people observe World Introvert Day. But according to Martin Boult, psychologist and senior director of professional services and international training for The Myers-Briggs Company in Australia, organizations that reward and encourage extroversion in the workforce might be overlooking the contributions of their introverted employees.
- Boult said in a statement that introverts prefer such activities as reading and learning new things at work or spending time with people they are close to, both inside and outside of work. But organizations might not appreciate the activities that enhance introverted workers’ performance and well-being. According to Myers-Briggs, although the world is split evenly between a preference for either extroversion or introversion, only 40% of company executives and senior managers in a global poll of 200,000 employees prefer introversion.
- Myers-Briggs research also found that in brainstorming sessions, which are regular exercises in the workplace, introverts speak up after evaluating and eliminating ideas on their own, as opposed to extroverts, who tend to brainstorm ideas “off the cuff.” On a 10-point scale, people who favor introversion score an average of one point lower or about 10% less in overall well-being than those who favor extroversion.
The direct correlation between well-being and performance isn’t lost on employers; a 2017 global Virgin Pulse study found 78% of organizations cited employee well-being as crucial to their business plans. In fact, 74% of respondents with holistic wellness programs discovered that the overall approach to well-being increased employee satisfaction. However, organizations might be so focused on their outgoing, more visible employees — as the Myers-Briggs research suggested — that they’re discounting the performance of their more introverted workers and what keeps them satisfied and engaged.
The same study also found that an overwhelming majority of respondents (95%) cited culture as the driver of positive business results. Based on this finding, organizations must consider whether a one-size-fits-all culture, specifically one that rewards and encourages extroversion over introversion, can bolster business performance and employee engagement. Organizations that value all workers, regardless of their work style or personality, may see a greater return on their investment in well-being and culture than those that favor extroversion.
Employers can use Myers-Briggs’ revelations about introverted employees to better engage them. The researchers recommend that employers encourage introverts to take on work that enhances their need to learn new things, find a sense of purpose and help co-workers who need assistance.