Supportive leaders make employees more satisfied and engaged

A recent collaboration between Lyse and researchers at the UiS School of Business and Law has proven to be highly beneficial for both parties. While the researchers were able to test their hypotheses in a real-world setting, the energy and telecommunications company received valuable input from employees in a structured manner.

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Mennesker som smiler til kamera foran en blå vegg.
SATISFIED: Gyrid Holmen, Simone Haeckl, Mari Rege, and Eimund Nygaard believe that the collaboration between Lyse and the UiS School of Business and Law has worked very well. Photo: Andreas Vikøren

Today's working life is in constant change, and employees must continuously adapt to new tasks and collaborators. For this adaptation to proceed smoothly, it is crucial to have a supportive work environment where employees feel safe to contribute and learn. Here, leaders can play an important role, and this is precisely what researchers at the UiS School of Business and Law tested in a field experiment in collaboration with Lyse.

– I think the collaboration we have had with the researchers at UiS has gone very well. Many people have opinions about leadership research, but few actually conduct research on it, says Eimund Nygaard, CEO of Lyse.

– Research-based leadership training

Recently, they collaborated with the researcher duo Simone Haeckl and Mari Rege from the UiS School of Business and Law to investigate how supportive leadership can make employees more satisfied and engaged.

– The study has examined what works well and what does not work as effectively. Sometimes, it is not clear what leadership training should focus on. Therefore, it is very important to have research that can demonstrate what actually works, he continues.

HR-director Gyrid Holmen is also very satisfied with the project that was recently concluded. She states that having good leaders is absolutely crucial for Lyse to achieve the goals they have set for the future.

– There is great reassurance in knowing that our leadership training is research-based. There is a lot of different stuff out there, but now we have confirmation that this type of leadership training actually works. I think that is very nice, she adds.

Trained leaders to become more supportive

In the experiment, half of the participating leaders received training on how to encourage and appreciate their employees, while the other half did not receive this training. Subsequently, the participants conducted team meetings with colleagues they had not previously

collaborated with and were asked to provide input on what Lyse could do to become an even better employer.

The results were clear: leaders who received the training exhibited more supportive behavior, and employees reported increased satisfaction and engagement.

– We found that leaders play a crucial role in creating an environment where employees feel safe to contribute ideas. The employees whose leaders received the training were more satisfied and engaged, Simone Haeckl explains.

Collaboration with the industry provided unique access

The success recipe for this study was the right timing for the collaboration. Lyse was in a strategic process and wanted input from as many employees as possible. Due to the pandemic, digital meetings had already been established, and most employees were working from home.

– We were able to leverage these circumstances to create a win-win situation. We had the opportunity to implement and test the effectiveness of leadership training in a real company, while Lyse received valuable input from many employees in a structured manner, says Mari Rege.

The results from the experiment are now published in the prestigious management journal, Management Science.

The research also stands out as a successful collaboration with the corporate world. Through Lyse, Haeckl and Rege gained unique access to conduct the experiment in a field setting that is representative of today's working life, where teamwork is becoming the norm and employees constantly need to adapt to new routines.

– This research is a prime example of successful collaboration between the university and a company. I am very pleased that the article was published in a leading management journal where it can reach readers worldwide, Haeckl concludes.

Text: Silje Marnburg Ellefsen & Andreas Vikøren