Encouraging Employee Hobbies: What, How and Why

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We at Inpulse have always been very interested in the human aspect of employees and organisations – it’s why we address employee engagement holistically. We measure emotional analytics, our surveys ask employees how they feel and why, and we provide organisations with emotional data in addition to the standard engagement metrics. 

We’re ahead of the curve by tapping into these emotional insights, but we genuinely wish this was standard throughout the industry. So many organisations are moving further away from what really matters for employee engagement, company culture, diversity and inclusion, employee experience – and that’s employee emotion. The success of these areas are so dependent on how employees feel: because how an individual feels affects their behaviour. 

We’ve done plenty of research into the relationship between employee emotion and behaviour and employee emotion and engagement, plus we see it daily with our clients – the more positive emotions an employee possesses, the more likely they are to engage, feel motivated and productive, remain loyal to the organisation, etc. 

There are many people-centric organisation’s, but there are still too many who view their people as a resource, forgetting they’re human too. And it’s these that will struggle tremendously with people-centric areas such as employee engagement (if they aren’t already).

It brings us to one interesting finding we discovered in a recent survey we ran in collaboration with Imagen Insights. We asked their community of GenZ’s a host of questions to find out more about what they need and want from their employer, and they felt strongly about being encouraged to have hobbies outside of work.

What does this tell us? That the next generation of talent is also hyper-aware of how people-centric their employer is. They’re aware of whether their employer sees them as people first and encourages them to build a life outside of work.

Benefits of encouraging employee hobbies

  1. Improves talent acquisition and retention
  2. Generates positive employee emotions for enhanced employee engagement, company culture 
  3. Reduces stress amongst employees 
  4. Nurtures employee skills and competencies 

What hobbies should you encourage your people to take up?

Every individual will have a different hobby they’d be interested in exploring and it’s important to honour each individual’s choice. You certainly won’t see the benefits we listed above if you decide on the hobby you’d like your people to take up. The thing is, you really don’t have to think about the actual hobby side of it – your responsibility as an employer is solely to encourage your people to find a hobby of their choice, and support them in it. In our questionnaire with GenZ’s, we received this comment: “I worked at a company that allowed its employees to pick one sport/activity/hobby and they would assist you in every way for you to attend those.”

How to encourage and support employee hobbies

Give them time to attend their hobbies  

In reference to the comment above – encouragement and support could be just that – the way in which you assist your people in attending their hobbies – of course within reason, you wouldn’t want employees taking hours, or a day, off work. But perhaps you could agree on flexible working times so that your people can fit their hobbies in.  

Acknowledge their hobbies and achievements 

You may want to show your support by acknowledging your people’s achievements at a special talent/hobby day gathering – this would be great for company culture and for employees to learn more about the personal side of their colleagues – the side they may not see at work. 

Ask your people how they’d want to be encouraged and supported

What we’d ultimately suggest though, is asking your people how they’d want to be encouraged and supported when it comes to taking up extra-mural activities. This is a question you can ask in a pulse survey – you could find out how your people feel about having a hobby, how they feel about being encouraged to explore a hobby, how they feel is has impacted their work and how they’d like to be supported in their hobby. 

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