Insightful public lecture looks at harnessing strengths in the workplace

Prof Marianne van Woerkom examined the importance of identifying and utilising the strengths and talents of employees in the workplace during a recent public lecture hosted by the Optentia research unit on the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Vanderbijlpark Campus.

Prof Van Woerkom, a professor of positive psychology and human resource studies at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, explained that harnessing employees’ strengths not only can help them to cope with work pressure, but it can also add value in their personal and professional development.

“When employees are aware of their strengths and talents, they are more likely to feel confident and engaged in their work. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity.”

Additionally, employees who are able to use their strengths at work are more likely to experience a sense of fulfilment and meaning in their jobs.

Throughout the lecture, Prof Van Woerkom provided practical tips and examples for identifying and utilising strengths in the workplace. She emphasised the importance of self-reflection, feedback, and ongoing development.

“Companies often have different definitions of talent, and in many cases, the talent pool consists of a small percentage of the workforce. These individuals typically possess a high level of potential and are given opportunities for growth and development. Research on talent management has shown positive results, with improvements in commitment, performance, and employee retention. However, these positive outcomes are primarily observed among those who are considered part of the talent pool.”

According to Prof Van Woerkom, this finding raises concerns about the potential negative impact of talent management strategies on employees who are not part of the designated talent pool.

“These individuals may feel undervalued and unappreciated, which can lead to a decrease in motivation, performance, and overall job satisfaction. Therefore, it is essential for companies to recognise the potential drawbacks of focusing solely on a select group of employees and to consider implementing talent management strategies that benefit the entire workforce.”

She added that one approach to addressing this issue is to adopt a more inclusive talent management strategy, which involves identifying and nurturing the potential of all.

“Employers can play a crucial role in helping employees identify and make use of their strengths. This can be done through various human resource practices such as performance appraisals, training and development programmes, and job crafting. By providing employees with opportunities to use their strengths in their work, employers can not only improve individual performance, but also promote a positive work environment.”

Prof Marianne van Woerkom presented an insightful lecture on how employers can promote a positive work environment by utilising the strengths of their employees.


Prof Marianne van Woerkom

Submitted on Tue, 11/07/2023 - 14:55