How Does Self-Image Impact Employee Performance?

Self-Esteem and employee performance

For many professionals, achievement in the workplace serves as the ultimate self-esteem booster. Called out for a job well-done by your leader? Big boost. Got a promotion? Even bigger boost. And with each small accomplishment comes a small amount of satisfaction in knowing that we're making progress toward the pinnacle of our professional lives. After all, history tells us – our positive, healthy self-image coupled with a hard work ethic can lead to more job satisfaction, which in turn leads to success both inside and outside of the office.

It's an easy connection to make – the better your performance at work, the higher your level of self-esteem may rise. In fact, according to Ellen McGrath of Psychology Today, "Research has shown that the more roles people fill, the more sources of self-esteem they have. Meaningful work has long been one of the important ways to feel good about oneself." But what if your working environment doesn't provide the boost you need to succeed?

Unfortunately, in a shaky economic climate the workplace has become less reliable for the self-image boost we're all seeking. "Where work has traditionally been a source of self-esteem, that link is now endangered," McGrath explains. "The one thing that is most likely to suffer damage in today's workplace is precisely what most of us hope to get there – self-esteem."

The Impact on Employee Performance

Anne Ward, a doctoral candidate in NCU's PhD in Business Administration with a specialization in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, asserts that the ties between self-image and performance are more important to your organization than you might think. "Employee performance is important to improving bottom line revenue," she explains. "Someone with high self-esteem will be satisfied with work performance and be more productive."

Leaders within your organization may understand the importance behind this link, but in an environment that proves difficult to manage your own self-esteem on a daily basis, how can leaders help their team members struggling to overcome hurdles?

Ward emphasizes that leaders should remember to be sensitive to the fact that there are a variety of factors both inside and outside of work that may be affecting self-image in the workplace. "[Remember], low self-esteem can harm the unit or organization, as these team members do not respond well to stressors, which makes them feel even worse," she explains.

"When you have a team member that has low self-esteem, find an area where they have high self-esteem and try to emphasize that area to help them be successful at work," suggests Ward. "Increase their self-esteem through [providing opportunity for] real accomplishments and positive feedback." This exercise may include opportunities both inside and outside of work.

Tips on Improving Self-Image

Looking for ways to improve your own self-image or ideas on how to help impact employee performance? Henrik Edberg provides these tips (and more) in his blog, How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 12 Powerful Tips:

  • Say stop to your inner critic.
  • Use healthier motivation habits.
  • Write down three things that you can appreciate about yourself.
  • Stop falling into the comparison trap.
  • Spend more time with supportive people (and less time with destructive people).

Visit the Positivity Blog for more tips and details on how each of these can help you and your team members make positive change in your personal and professional life.

Ultimately, a positive self-image contributes to your level of contentment both inside and outside the workplace. Remembering to take each workplace or life challenge in stride can help you achieve a work-life balance that promotes happiness as well as productivity.