The 2017 Gallup report revealed how global productivity continues to be in decline. With US$7 trillion in lost productivity, it’s time to get serious about caring about how to increase the level of workplace engagement because it’s costing us dearly.
To this end a flurry of activity in the development of workplace wellness programs has occurred encouraging employees to participate in more physical activity and adopt a healthier diet. While a step in the right direction, jaded minds may see this as a token tick of the box by an organisation desperate to be seen to be doing the right thing.
It also fails to address the root cause of disengagement; boredom, lack of opportunity, fear of what the future may bring and high levels of stress.
Workplace wellness is not just about preventing physical sickness and mental illness. Organisational wellbeing includes developing the right environment that fosters purpose, meaning and growth at a personal and business level.
By adopting an employee-centric focus that is values-driven, and by developing a positive collective mindset, it is possible to effectively reduce the human costs of business (absenteeism, presenteeism and high staff turnover).
The challenge faced by leaders is how to facilitate positive environmental workplace change fast enough to enable people to develop their full potential with the energy, motivation and drive required.
This is where we can learn from our kids. Our children use their natural curiosity to explore and make sense of the world around them, safe in the knowledge that they are supported and cared for. As adults we are no different.
When allowed to work to our strengths, to do work that provides meaning, when feeling acknowledged and valued, we are motivated to do more.
Leaders looking to boost engagement can show they CARE by using the following:
Courage and Compassion
Standing up for what is right and making the tough decisions when needed takes courage. Courageous leaders demonstrate this with good communication skills that are transparent and authentic.
This inspires a willingness to challenge the status quo and seek innovative ways for growth and improvement. Combining courage with compassion builds social connection and commitment to the greater good, opening the door to establishing trust.
Compassionate leadership demonstrates the humanity that binds others in the belief that they are cared for, resulting in greater discretionary effort, generosity and collaboration.
Autonomy and Accountability
Trust provides the latitude for employees to demonstrate their capability and succeed through the autonomy of being able to make their own decisions. Coupled with accountability this fosters self-reliance and develops confidence.
Being recognised and acknowledged for work well done contributes to a positive emotional state that maintains a willingness and drive to step up to a challenge, or solve a problem.
Results and Relationships
When an individual can see the results of their labour and knows that their contribution is valued and matters to the organisation they not only feel good, they are better placed to stay focused, on task and get on better with others. This is how leaders set up others for success.
Positive workplace relationships are fundamental to business success at every level. As Zenger and Folkman revealed, what makes a good organisation great occurs when leaders recognise the value of people’s social needs at work and inspire them to take action.
This is fostered by encouraging face-to-face interaction at work and providing the opportunity to engage in community projects that ‘give back’.
Empathy and Encouragement
Sometimes it is the smallest of gestures, such as a few words of encouragement, that have the biggest impact. The empathetic leader shows they understand the challenges others may be facing. Mentoring and being the role model can influence an employee’s mindset and assist them to make the best decisions for their own career path and future happiness.
Addressing the biological and psychological needs of what it takes to be fully human leads to the creation of a workplace environment that is people centric and values driven. Leaders who CARE will be the ones who build engagement and organisations that flourish.