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Flow State: A Gateway to Engagement, Performance, and Productivity

How your organization can activate the conditions for employees to achieve optimal results.

What is it?

Colloquially referred to as “being in the zone,” flow state is the mental state of being fully immersed in an activity, where everything else beyond the immediate task seems to disappear. It is often associated with situations involving individuals playing sports, gaming, or participating in creative activities such as art or music. But professional situations such as designing, coding, researching, conducting surgery, or solving complex business problems can also help achieve a flow state.

Flow is not a project that can be implemented. Rather, an organization establishes a pattern of behaviors and practices that can influence and stimulate individuals and teams to experience flow.

Why does it matter?

Flow state helps improve productivity

  • Organizations are challenged to increase productivity and, at the same time, keep employees engaged and high performing. While there is no single way to tackle these challenges, research suggests that achieving a flow state positively influences these areas of concern (and more).
  • Flow state is the gold standard of productivity, when individuals feel and perform most confidently. Organizations that activate the conditions for flow state enable employees to achieve optimal results, increasing engagement, performance, and productivity.
  • Flow state and the conditions needed to achieve it can be different for every individual. An organization cannot simply manifest a flow state; it needs to establish a pattern of behaviors and work triggers that can influence and stimulate individuals and teams to encourage a flow state.

This research introduces the concept of flow state, the four phases of the flow cycle, workplace flow triggers, and employee, manager, and organizational tactics to encourage flow.

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.


  • Beata Souders, Care Coach: Resilience and Optimal Performance, BetterUp
  • Danielle Whitford, Founder and CEO, Pioneera
  • Geoffrey Reid, CEO, Marcus Evans Group: Summits Division
  • Juan Olivares, Orchestra Player
  • Karen Chown, COO, CETA Global
  • Meghan Lindsay, Opera Singer
  • Luis Garcia, Co-founder, Collectiva
  • MJ Shaar, Wellness & Motivational Speaker, MJShaar
  • 24 anonymous focus group contributors