Businesses want great results and positive numbers. At its most basic level, results come from people, which is why the question of how to maintain and increase employee engagement is the leading topic in today’s business world.
There are many programs and initiatives that managers introduce, in the hopes of improving employee performance and engagement so that people bring their full potential to work. Management offers bonuses, improvements to work design, more challenging tasks, career perspective, flexible work hours, professional trainings and more.
But, what is overlooked is what is essential to managing humans. It is the one thing that people all crave from our work, relationships, and lives in general – and it is not easy to get…
It is the feeling of being accepted, valued, and cared for.
What Motivates Employees
As psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “Feeling cared about, accepted, and respected is necessary before we can realize our full potential of consciousness.” In other words, people want their words to be heard, comprehended, and held in high regard. The way others see you affects your vision of yourself.
Unfortunately, technology threatens the connections we have to one another. People are constantly scanning computer screens and mobile devices instead of making eye contact. There is no getting to know one another, to see the unique, beautiful beings all around, let alone to appreciate every one. The conversations that do exist occur at a surface level and miss the valuable details that lay below.
What is Engagement, Exactly?
According to Gallup, employees who are engaged are those who actively participate in, committed to and enthusiastic about their work and place of work. Engagement is crucial for people to give their all on the job over a lengthy period.
Often Managers seek to improve worker engagement levels by offering incentives designed to increase happiness levels in these employees. But, that is rarely enough. Even when employees like their environment, find tasks interesting, and enjoy their time away from work, the absence of meaningful conversations with their managers can kill their drive to do their best on the job.
As Gallop explains in the same article, it is this lack of meaningful conversation with managers that is the most powerful reason people are detached, under stress, and sad at work. Typically the conversations are obligatory ones that start hopeful and end with leaders making decisions that wash away any optimism.
When leaders focus on results and performance, which they so often are, and they look to engage employees by fixing them, it will not succeed. A deeper connection cannot be made because the employees are not being accepted, valued, or heard.
Achieving Real Engagement
When people enjoy their time together, they want to continue to converse and give their best as a result of the connection they feel toward one another. The positive energy in real engagement produces incredible results!
In the presence of real engagement, the more socially dominant person in the conversation (the leader) expresses emotions and intentions, with the other person choosing to be open or closed. The person must feel acceptance and a trusting environment for he or she to engage fully back. If not, the connection is broken and disappears.
How to Empower People
To give a person a new activity at work will not empower him or her. Empowerment comes from the inside when people are respected, cherished, and recognized.
To achieve more meaningful conversations, leaders can learn how to be more compassionate, inquisitive, and considerate, so that meaningful conversations can occur. When these leaders craft active, engaged workplaces, the results are exceptional.
To both genuinely see one another and be seen in return has the power to energize businesses. It is the quality, not the quantity, of the conversation that truly matters.