In today’s dynamic work environment, where productivity, employee well-being, and organisational success are closely intertwined, professional efficacy emerges as a critical factor. An employer's ability to recognise, nurture and harness this concept can significantly influence the overall effectiveness of their teams and the achievement of business goals.

Professional efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their professional competencies and their ability to perform effectively in their work role. It encompasses confidence, skills, and the conviction that one can meet job-related expectations. When employees feel capable, competent and successful in their tasks, they exhibit higher professional efficacy, however unlike external validation, an employee’s self-efficacy comes from their own internal assessment of their performance and capabilities.

4 Key reasons why professional efficacy is important

1. Boosting Employee Performance and Satisfaction

When employees believe in their capabilities and feel competent in their roles, they perform at their best. High professional efficacy translates into increased productivity, quality work, and a sense of accomplishment. Understanding this link allows employers to create an environment that fosters self-confidence and empowers the workforce to excel.

2. Mitigating Burnout and Enhancing Resilience

Burnout, the silent adversary of productivity, often stems from feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm. By grasping the role of professional efficacy, employers can implement strategies to prevent burnout. When employees feel effective and capable, they are better equipped to handle stress, setbacks, and demanding workloads. Recognising signs of burnout early and addressing them through efficacy-enhancing interventions is crucial.

3. Driving Employee Engagement

Engaged employees are the foundation of any organisation. Professional efficacy directly influences engagement levels. When individuals perceive their work as meaningful and attainable, they become more invested in their tasks. Employers who prioritise efficacy contribute to a workforce that actively participates, collaborates, and innovates.

4. Creating a Positive Organisational Culture

Professional efficacy isn’t just about individual confidence; it shapes the collective mindset within a company. Employers can cultivate a positive culture by celebrating achievements, providing constructive feedback, and offering growth opportunities. When efficacy becomes part of the organisational DNA, it radiates through every interaction, decision, and policy.

What can employers do to improve professional efficacy?

 1. Recruit Applicants with High Self-Efficacy:

  • During the hiring process, focus on selecting individuals who exhibit strong self-efficacy beliefs. These candidates are more likely to be motivated and perform well.
  • Consider utilising specific interview questions that target and assess an applicant’s general level of self-efficacy.
  • Look into using some testing to assess a candidate’s level of self-efficacy.

2. Ensure Appropriate Job Demands:

  • Complex, challenging, and autonomous tasks contribute to increased self-efficacy. Encourage employees to engage in mastery experiences by tackling work of this nature.
  • Avoid providing monotonous or unchallenging tasks, as they can lead to decreased self-efficacy as well as disengagement.

3. Invest in Training and Professional Development:

  • Guided experiences, mentoring, and role modelling enhance self-efficacy expectations for tasks.
  • Designate a team leader who exemplifies self-efficacious behaviour as a role model for others.
  • Consider providing professional development opportunities for all employees to further boost self-efficacy.
  • Run team meetings where this topic is explored so all employees understand how it can work for them.

3. Promote Self-Management:

Encourage employees to:

  • Set realistic personal goals.
  • Prioritise tasks effectively.
  • Enhance time-management skills.
  • Note that systematic self-management training contributes to higher self-efficacy expectations.

4. Set Reasonable Goals and Expectations:

  • Align goal difficulty with an individual or team’s perceived self-efficacy level.
  • As self-efficacy and performance increase, gradually raise the complexity of tasks and goals.
  • Aim to break larger goals into smaller and more achievable steps as this works to generate a sense of competence and achievement.

5. Improve Coaching Strategies:

  • Provide accurate, timely, and specific feedback to help employees understand cause-and-effect relationships in their performance.
  • Increase the quality and quantity of constructive pointers, guidance, and support.
  • Provide effective coaching to enhance overall performance and an increase in self-efficacy.

It is important to remember that fostering self-efficacy not only improves individual performance, but it also contributes to a more productive and motivated workforce.

As a leader, what can I do to improve my own self-efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a dynamic quality that can be cultivated over time. Leaders who invest in their own growth contribute to a more effective and confident leadership style. Here are 4 key tips for leaders to adopt:

1. Personal Mastery Experiences:

  • Actively engage in tasks or challenges related to leadership.
  • Succeeding in these experiences will reinforce confidence and improve self-efficacy.
  • Learn from setbacks and ensure that futures attempts are adapted.

2. Vicarious Learning:

  • Observe other successful leaders in action.
  • Learn from their behaviours, strategies, and decision-making.
  • Model the effective approaches of other leaders to enhance self-efficacy.

3. Positive Feedback and Recognition:

  • Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements.
  • Seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, or coaches.
  • Recognise your own competence and build on it.

4. Wellness and Self-Care:

  • Prioritise physical and mental health.
  • Manage stress, as high stress levels can undermine self-belief.
  • Practice relaxation techniques to maintain clarity of mind.

Self-efficacy is a catalyst for driving improved performance

In the constantly evolving landscape of the modern workplace, self-efficacy emerges as a powerful catalyst for performance. An employee’s intrinsic belief in their ability to tackle challenges and achieve goals significantly impacts individual and collective outcomes. When employees possess strong self-efficacy, they approach tasks with determination, invest effort, and persist even in the face of adversity.

As leaders, it has become important to recognise and nurture self-efficacy in the workplace. Whilst ‘self-efficacy’ may seem like an obscure skill for leaders to harness, there is growing evidence that organisations that foster a culture of self-belief are reaping the benefits of a workplace that is primed and ready for excellence.

Further information

For assistance with all your workplace matters, Members of Ai Group can contact us or call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for further information. Ai Group offers a range of training courses to support employers on their development journey. 

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Georgina Pacor

Georgina is Senior HR Content Editor – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 25 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.