There are many positive aspects of modern working cultures; technology is breaking down barriers and opening up endless connections to new markets and possibilities, we are able to work at a much faster pace and respond quickly to situations. Successful people have become experts at making things happen and overcoming adversity. Organisations have become ‘leaner’ in order to strive in recent challenging, economic conditions leading to less people with bigger workloads.

People are spending longer than ever at their desks and taking work home. A recent study in the States showed that 69% of people with smart phones check their email before they go to sleep. However, research suggests this (and related phenomena) has not led to higher productivity. Quite the opposite is happening with ‘presenteeism’ (lack of engagement) rather than absenteeism becoming the current big issue in work. Furthermore, over 100 studies have showed a link between employee engagement and the bottom line. In one such study in 2008 of 90,000 employees over 18 countries only 20% reported to be fully engaged, with 38% reporting they were disengaged or disenchanted. The companies with high engagement reported 19% increase in income and 28% growth in earning for shares while those with the highest levels of disengagement reported a 32% decline in operational income.

While competencies and the skills people need to do their job well have come into focus, with an emphasis on selection criteria, 360 feedback, PR systems and management training, what organisations need to pay attention to is how staff can renew their energy to be able to sustain success.

We question the commonly held assumption that longer working hours equate to higher productivity. We will examine how we are not built for a continuous output of energy like machines; we are built to pulse between output and intermittent renewal of our energy. In simple terms, to be high performers we need to master renewing and managing our energy. The higher the demand, the more we need to refuel, yet paradoxically we often do the opposite. How many of us grab another cup of coffee or a sugar hit to keep the energy going when we are tired and trying to meet deadlines and challenges? Neuroscience research is showing us how we can engage with the concept of energy from a different perspective, looking at tools we can use to renew and regenerate our energy much more effectively and thus be able to be more engaged at work and have more energy for life in general.