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Strengths @ Bentley

 

Introduction

In 2014, Bentley entered a partnership with Gallup Inc. to assess the co-curricular landscape on campus.  The goal of this assessment was to identify experiences on campus that could serve as indicators for workplace engagement after students graduate. 

Through data analysis, Gallup discovered the importance of amplifying person’s strengths.  Gallup research shows that two-thirds of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics are engaged with their work.  When employees strongly disagree with this statement, only 2% of workers indicate that they are engaged.  

Statement of Purpose

Bentley University is committed to developing students who are prepared to lead great lives. As an institution, we offer a myriad of opportunities for learning and involvement outside of the classroom that complement the University’s robust academic curriculum.

We continue to generate leadership roles, programs, and initiatives that are grounded in positive psychology and Strengths-based philosophy. These opportunities focus on the inherent talents and gifts of all people, and they provide space for students to practice what they do best every day. As students invest in these experiences and hone their talents, they are able to cultivate meaningful relationships with one another and identify mentors who can further their personal and professional goals.

The Gallup-Purdue Index (2014) reveals that students who can articulate their Strengths and apply their talents are more likely to be engaged in their jobs and to be thriving in their lives. At Bentley, we seek to provide new and innovative outlets for students to explore their Strengths. These experiences equip students with the requisite knowledge and skills for life beyond college.  Providing them opportunities to nurture their talents will empower them to find careers that provide both purpose and prosperity.

Framework

In order to ensure that we are taking a comprehensive approach to integrating a strengths-based philosophy throughout the student experience, we have created a framework by which to categorize Strengths initiatives. 

  Community

During the community-building stage, students will take the StrengthsFinder assessment during their first semester at Bentley, which will be followed by a workshop that will allow staff to deliver a consistent message around Strengths.  Students will have opportunities in their first semester to explore their top five Strengths through individual reflection.  Programming will be focused on applying Strengths within their living communities as well as through student organization membership. 

Curriculum

It is important to provide students with opportunities to further learn about their Strengths as part of Bentley’s academic curriculum.  StrengthsFinder is used as the foundation for the career development classes—CDI 101 and 201—as well as some general business courses—GB215—that have a particular focus on working in teams.  Given that Strengths was developed as a tool for businesses, a range of connections exist between StrengthsFinder and our business-focused academics.  A formalized infusion of Strengths within a wide array of courses continues to be explored.     

  Career

The StrengthsFinder assessment was designed for corporate application.  By integrating Strengths in the community and through the curriculum, we are giving students a language—and advantage—that other business students around the country do not have.  When students embrace their Strengths, they are able to identify and create an environment that will allow them to be more engaged and productive in their careers.  

Background

In the 1990s, Gallup completed a study of employee engagement using a 12-item assessment (Q12).  The assessment looked at the needs that employees have for a sense of belonging, growth, and contributions in the workplace.  It also unearthed the often overlooked need for emotional fulfillment.  When workers saw their emotional needs being met, there was an increased level of workplace engagement that resulted in higher productivity, profitability, retention rates, and safety rates.

Gallup recently concluded a study that investigated the effects that strengths and engagement have in the workplace.  The results showed that employees who received strengths feedback, showed significantly more improvement on their Q12 engagement scores then those who did not.  The same results were seen with the over 12,157 employees who were administered the Q12 assessment. 

Employees and employers who focus on both workplace engagement and strengths have increased and improved productivity and profitability.  A strengths-based approach to management is seen as an important step in creating a positive relationship between manager and employee. 

 

Conclusion

The Division of Student Affairs is committed to making Bentley a Strengths-based institution by fully integrating the StrengthsFinder assessment into the community, curriculum, and career.  Helping faculty, staff, and students learn to identify and maximize their potential through a strengths development lens, makes sense for individuals as well as businesses.

Request a Strengths Fellows, Coach, Presentation, Training, and more HERE!