52 | Developing Leaders Issue 35: 2020 Viewpoint and therefore threat. If our workplace does not allow us the control to balance our life priorities, work delivery and responsibilities or to follow our aspirations, we feel that our autonomy and choice are diminished and the level of threat increases, leading to depleted performance. E is for Equity My perception of being treated fairly and of fairness and equity within my group. A sense of equity and fairness can create a strong reward response, and a sense of unfairness can generate a threat response that can last for some time. When the brain responds to unfairness, it activates the same areas we associate with disgust. It is clear how a sense of unfairness in the workplace can link to stress amongst staff and lower productivity. How we interpret fairness, will be subject to our own values and beliefs, but it is critical for an organization to treat its employees fairly and consistently. R is for Reliability My sense of certainty and security in my surroundings, others, and my life Our brains have evolved to constantly scan our environment, predict outcomes and make split second decisions. When we see even the smallest element of ambiguity in what is happening around us, we trigger threat responses through our ‘Fight or Flight’ mechanisms. This threat activation within the workplace results in reduced performance and cognitive functioning. The continually-changing world of our work environment constantly triggers this threat instinct—a possible reason why the vast majority of organizational change still fails. S is for Stretch My opportunities for growth, learning and achievement through effort. We need to learn in order to adapt and survive within an ever-changing environment, so our brains have developed to seek to learn. We learn by challenging ourselves and our status quo and the brain experiences this as reward in the form of a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Feeling positively challenged at work increases both productivity and creativity. Within the workplace the opportunity to see tangible progress, have our effort recognised, to learn, master and achieve is in itself motivational and will in turn support ongoing organizational development A fully referenced version of this article is available from Susanne Jacobs is a founder of The Seven and is an organizational engagement expert who helps organizations create highly motivated environments where people feel engaged, energized and inspired to contribute to the business. Susanne was recently named as one of the top 100 Thought Leaders in the world by Trust Across America and is the author of ‘DRIVERS, Creating Trust and Motivation at Work’. Building Organizations Fit for Humans