If you've been following Dr. David Paul's research on Employee Productivity you already know that Caring for Others Boosts Work Performance and that there are simple Steps to Caring about Employees. A caring environment helps employees become engaged in their jobs. Why is engagement important?
Think about a task that you recently worked on which you found engaging. Did you enjoy working on the task? How much did you accomplish? Now compare your engaged productivity to a task which you did not find stimulating.
Without engagement we have little enjoyment and limited productivity. This applies to all tasks, from the simplest to the most complex and challenging. Let's use working out as a sample of one of the most basic tasks. Was your disengaged workout ever better than the one where you were fully engaged? You don't need to be Michael Phelps or Michael Jordan to feel the difference.
I can give you an even simpler example - washing dishes. To say that I don't like washing dishes would be an understatement. If I think about how much I hate washing dishes I can never be engaged. The washing takes forever, is distressing, and results in poorly cleaned dishes. However, if I simply start washing the dishes, watch the water pour over my hands, the sponge rub the soap into the plate, the grease rinse off into the sink, the process turns meditative. I enter a state of Zen and end up with a stack of perfectly clean dishes and a happy demeanor.
I am sure we've all experienced mundane tasks at work or ones we found pointless that took us forever to complete. Whether you're designing an algorithm or building a user interface, engagement is the key to success. Why is it that only 13% of employees are engaged at their work? Because employers don't seek to bring out their enthusiasm, but take employee engagement for granted.
Dr. Paul's research identifies three pillars of a productive and caring work environment: Regard, Respect, and Reward. In a similar article by ISE Partners three main ingredients to employee engagement are presented as trust, communication, and reward.
"Micromanagement is something of a workplace plague. It erodes employees’ feelings of being trusted team members, which prevents them from taking full ownership of their work. If you loosen your grip on the reins there may be a few mishaps, but a strong team can weather those. What’s more, team members’ increased engagement and feeling of control over their work will more than make up for the losses."
"As a manager, you’re not only responsible for offering advice and information to employees, you also need to listen. While you have an unparalleled view of the big picture, those at lower levels of the company are seeing a side of your business that is often invisible to you. While the board might have facts and figures regarding customer satisfaction, that can’t replace the intuitive understanding of those who engage with customers every day. Building effective channels for this kind of communication ensures that the unique expertise of low-level staff members is recognized and utilized, enhancing their feeling that they are valued contributors."
"Rewarding employees is about much more than occasionally sending a complimentary group email. An individual employee will become engaged if her specific talents and contributions are recognized. Instead of simply saying “I’m really glad we won this account,” say “Laura, I’m really impressed with how you read this client’s situation. It made the difference in achieving the outcome we wanted.” Based on the second statement, your employee feels that she is an integral part of the process, which will tap into her natural urge to achieve."
Stay caring, engaged, and productive.
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