How to Increase Engagement: Treat Your Employees like They Matter

Employee Engagement: Teamwork

People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.

You’ve likely heard this saying before. Thinking back over the jobs you’ve held through the course of your life, what made you want to quit each job? Did your boss or manager play a role?

The following individual’s response is typical of many employees: “Almost every job I’ve quit had to do with reasons associated with those who were supposed to manage or lead. I can also say I’ve never felt like I’ve had a great boss. I’ve had mediocre bosses who did not make my life miserable, but I’ve never had a boss who motivated or inspired me to do great things. In short, I’ve never felt truly engaged as an employee.”

Happiness at work

Employees who feel engaged? Just 15% worldwide.

According to Gallup, a research-based, global performance-management consulting company, only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged at work. Employees in the US are about twice as engaged, landing at 33%.

There are many different definitions of employee engagement, and they all revolve around a common theme: emotional commitment and attachment to one’s workplace and fellow employees. Engaged employees feel a profound connection and commitment to their company; they work with passion, they are loyal, and they are willing to go the extra mile.

Brent Gleeson says engaged employees “enthusiastically invest in their work and take on responsibilities outside of their job description. They are generally more likely to become emerging leaders and will stay with an organization much longer than non-engaged employees.”

disengaged employee67% of Employees Worldwide are Not Engaged and 18% are Actively Disengaged.

If 15% of employees worldwide are engaged, where is the remaining 85%? Almost 70% of employees are considered “not engaged” and 18% fall into the “actively disengaged” category. “Not engaged” employees are the hardest to identify because they are often relatively happy/satisfied in their role. They do the bare minimum and are not invested in their company’s mission, values, vision, or goals. Gleeson describes these team members as both a threat and a great opportunity. With the proper approach, employees who fall under the “not engaged” category could be transformed into engaged employees who thrive in an organization. With the wrong approach, they could become actively disengaged; transforming into negative and toxic employees, spreading toxicity throughout an organization.

Increase numbers of employee engagement

How can the numbers of engaged employees be improved?

Companies need to invest the time and energy into developing and implementing a program to provide managers with the knowledge and tools necessary to increase engagement within their teams. According to Gleeson, 70% of organizations fall significantly short of meeting their company goals when it comes to engagement. This is usually because the process takes longer than mangers, leadership, and organizations expect. Engagement is not something that will happen overnight, and change is hard. Engagement should improve with time and dedication from all levels of an organization.

workplace trust and communicationTrust and Communication.

I believe it is the responsibility of an organization and employer to create a culture and environment committed to employee engagement. If I had to offer one piece of advice to someone wanting to create a culture and environment of engagement, I would say this should be done by establishing trust and communication.

If employees don’t feel like they can sit down with their boss and openly talk about concerns, nothing will change. Leaders should communicate with their team frequently and create a safe and open environment where everyone is comfortable approaching their leaders with any concerns they may have. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, psychological safety is critical to the success of a team and the organization in which teams function.

empathy and listeningEmpathy + Listening.

Leaders should not assume they know what their employees want. In order to fully engage employees, leaders need to ask employees directly and then listen. Feedback from employees can be used by leaders to understand how to best meet their employees’ needs. Empathy helps leaders relate to those they serve – their employees. Sit down and talk with your employees. Listen to what they have to say. When your employees feel like their opinions and efforts matter to you and the organization, they are more likely to be invested in their jobs and the success of the company.

Engagement Quiz

The Engagement Quiz

In their article, Is your team engaged? Here’s a short, easy way to find out, Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick provide the Engagement Quiz. This eight-question quiz helps leaders assess their team’s engagement. Elton and Gostick suggest, “if you are a manager, ask your employees to give their honest feedback about their experience at work. (If they won’t, that should tell you something.) If you are an individual contributor, answer for yourself.”

☐ There are excellent opportunities to grow or learn new things around here.

☐ My leader regularly talks to us about our futures/career progression in positive ways.

☐ We are regularly recognized for our good work.

☐ My boss understands what drives me and gives me assignments I find motivating.

☐ We feel well-informed about organizational changes.

☐ We are free to speak up and give feedback without fear of reprisal.

☐ We feel our efforts make a difference every day.

☐ We understand the bigger mission and values of our organization.

Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots.

Employee engagement is low worldwide, and people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. The first step to increasing employee engagement is through empathy and open, honest, genuine/authentic communication. Employees should feel comfortable and safe approaching their leaders with concerns.

Ask your team some questions from the Engagement Quiz, and see what types of responses you receive. If you still aren’t sure where to begin, start by treating your colleagues well. Listen to them and give them room to grow. Treating your employees like human beings rather than production machines will begin to change their perceptions of you as a leader and of the organization as a whole.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 31st, 2017. See the full post here.

10 Ways to Express Gratitude in Your Life

Grateful

Over the last two weeks I’ve shared articles about the 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace and 4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace.

Now that we understand the why and how of gratitude, we are left with the question: If gratitude is so important, how can you begin to show it? Below, I’ve detailed 10 ways you can begin to express gratitude.

Express Gratitude: Thank You Blocks

1. Say “thank you” more.

Start your practice of gratitude by saying “thank you” more in the workplace and at home. From 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace, I give the following suggestions:

  • Be specific. When thanking someone, be specific. “Thanks for your help,” feels less genuine than “Emily, thank you for your help on the design project this weekend.” This could also apply to the out-of-office environment: “Carly, thank you for doing the dishes tonight.”
  • Tailor your thank-you to the person. Some people do not like public recognition – in these cases, an email or handwritten note to show your appreciation may be enough. Others may want more public recognition, such as a thank you during a meeting or family gathering.
  • Be consistent. Consistently thanking and appreciating people for what they do will help build positive relationships, and make them feel valued. Feeling valued helps build trust and appreciation.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pinky Promise2. Make yourself a promise.

According to Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert in gratitude, research shows making a promise/oath/vow to perform a behavior increases the likelihood the action will be performed. Write your own gratitude vow and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day. Set a goal to express your gratitude at least five times a day, and check in with yourself before you go to bed.

3. Express gratitude: commit to your practice.

There will be days when you feel like doing anything other than finding reasons to be grateful, but pushing through these days will empower you and help you build the strength and resilience necessary to push through other challenges.

Oops!

4. Allow yourself to be human.

It’s alright to miss a day once in a while, and it’s alright to feel grumpy about having to follow through on your commitment when it’s the last thing you want to do. We are human, we are not perfect, so cut yourself some slack if you do miss an opportunity for gratitude.

Boys on phones5. Put your phone away when you are with others.

According to Tiny Buddha, a popular website and blog, one of the easiest ways to express your gratitude for other people is to do your best to be fully present in their presence. Putting your phone away when you are with others will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them, and they may be more appreciative of your attentiveness.

6. Do something little for someone else.

This might include helping with the dishes when you go to someone’s house for dinner; telling a co-worker’s boss how they are doing a great job and are contributing to the company; giving your server or barista a larger tip than usual; praising someone on Yelp and/or recommending them to the people you know; or buying someone lunch or a treat to show your appreciation.

Express Gratitude: Superhero - compliment yourself

7. Compliment yourself.

Give yourself a compliment while you are looking in the mirror or write a compliment for yourself on a sticky note and place it somewhere in your house. In our society today it seems more “acceptable” to put ourselves down or refuse a compliment because it makes us seem humble. Rachel Yahne, an award-winning blogger and lifestyle writer, wrote The Scary Reason You Can’t Accept A Compliment. In her post she says, “We spend so much of our time putting ourselves down (using inner-monologue to tell ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough)…If we complimented ourselves more, we’d be more willing to take compliments from others. Not only would be better equipped to react and accept compliments, we’d actually realize there are traits about us worthy of complimenting.” This realization could help increase our overall self-esteem.

teach & model gratitide8. Model and teach gratitude.

According to the Positive Psychology Program, modeling is often the best way to teach any skill or trait to children, but, what about extending your gratitude practice to those around you? Researchers from Princeton University showed cooperative and altruistic behavior can spread from one person to another. Expressing gratitude may inspire other people to do the same.

9. Remember the challenges.

According to Robert Emmons, it is helpful to remember the hard times you once experienced so you may be grateful in your current state. Remembering the difficult times compared to where you are presently helps create a contrast. “This contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.”

10. Keep a gratitude list, journal, or jar.

Taking the time to write down what you are grateful for can help reinforce positive thoughts, which is helpful because the brain tends to naturally focus on what goes wrong. According to the BYU School of Education, a gratitude journal can help us recognize opportunities to express our gratitude. As we notice the things we are grateful for, we will be more inclined to express gratitude to others, thus multiplying the positive benefits of our gratitude. Below are a few pointers on how to get started:

Express gratitude with a gratitude journalGratitude List/Journal

Pick a time when you will take a few minutes each day to write in you journal about things you are grateful for. Think of both your immediate and extended family. Think of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You may even think of the physical things in your life like your home, or your health.

Gratitude Jar

Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite coffee shop, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper (bonus points for colored paper!), and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a many of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of what is good in your life. To learn more about how this activity can enhance your life, you can read about it here.

Connecting the Dots

These 10 suggestions for ways to express gratitude in your life aren’t the only options out there. Be creative in your own way of expressing gratitude and showing appreciation for those around you. Wondering how you are going to fit another “to-do” item into your busy schedule? Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling like you have to do everything listed above. Even the smallest increase in your expression of gratitude can make a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

Thank you for reading!

Interested in learning more? Check out my article 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace and 4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your personal expression of gratitude, or the expression of gratitude in your workplace, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 26th, 2017. See the full post here.

4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace

Exploring world with gratitude

You might be wondering, “Why, should I express gratitude in the workplace?” It could be difficult, especially if you do not feel appreciated by your manager, coworkers, or company as a whole. However, there are four significant benefits of expressing gratitude both in and out of the workplace.

Gratitude builds resilienceBenefit #1: Gratitude improves your well-being and resilience.

Researchers reviewed 139 studies on gratitude and well-being. The research reviewed indicates expressing gratitude improves both physical and psychological health. Researchers describe gratitude as a part of a wider life orientation toward noticing and appreciating the positive in the world, and this orientation is different from optimism, hope, and trust. These same researchers define well-being through psychopathology, general emotional functioning, existential functioning, and humanistic conceptions.

happiness and wellbeing

Psychopathology

A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality revealed those who express gratitude are more resilient. Increased resilience helps individuals better manage stress and experience fewer negative or toxic emotions.

According to a study published in the Clinical Psychology Review, high levels of gratitude and thankfulness were inversely correlated to depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, drug abuse or dependence, and bulimia nervosa. Thus, as gratitude and thankfulness increase, the risk of the psychopathological conditions described above decrease.

high level of positive emotionsEmotional Functioning

High emotional functioning is comprised of three things: high levels of positive emotions, low levels of negative emotions, and high satisfaction with life. Gratitude appears related to mood and life satisfaction; as gratitude expression increases, so does mood and life satisfaction.

Existential Functioning and Humanistic Conceptions

Expression of gratitude may increase an individual’s feelings of personal freedom and free will, and is related to the pursuit of meaning and purpose (existentialism). Expressing gratitude may increase our feelings of personal freedom, free will, meaning, and purpose, which may then increase our resilience to psychopathologies (such as depression) later in life.  Expressing gratitude may also increase authentic living (behaving in a way consistent with one’s own personal beliefs and values) and decrease self-alienation (lacking a sense of identity or not knowing oneself). These are considered humanistic conceptions.

gratitude improves health

Benefit #2: Gratitude improves your health.

Research revealed gratitude leads to decreasing levels of stress over time. Stress is considered a major contributor to almost all physical health complaints. If stress can be decreased through the expression of gratitude, physical health may improve as well.

Gratitude may also improve your health by improving your sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep deficiency can raise your risk for chronic health problems and affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Researchers describe how gratitude was related to total sleep quality, sleep duration (both too little and too much), sleep latency (abnormally long time taken to fall asleep), sleep quality, and daytime dysfunction (due to insufficient sleep). In each case, gratitude was related to sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Negative thoughts prior to sleep are related to impaired sleep. On the other hand, positive pre-sleep thoughts are related to improved sleep quality and quantity. People expressing gratitude experienced less sleep harming negative thoughts, and more sleep promoting positive cognitions, resulting in better overall sleep.

positive relationships with others3. Gratitude improves your relationships with others.

Results of several scientific studies describe how gratitude appears related to a range of social outcomes and positive relationships. Researchers reviewed many studies and found gratitude is related to: perceived quality of relationships, willingness to forgive, and low narcissism. Expression of gratitude promotes relationship formation, and strengthens established relationships through connection and satisfaction. Gratitude may also promote helping behavior and conflict resolution. According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Kentucky, individuals who show gratitude experience less aggression, a decreased desire to seek revenge, and an increase in sensitivity and empathy toward other people. This may help promote psychological safety

ripple effect

Benefit # 4: Gratitude has a ripple effect.

Researchers from Princeton University showed how cooperative and altruistic behavior can spread from one person to another. Expressing gratitude may inspire other people to do the same. If you find yourself in a workplace lacking gratitude, consciously expressing gratitude may result in increased gratitude by your team members, and possibly even your organization as a whole.

Connecting the dots.

Although you may feel like you have little to be grateful for, especially in the workplace, consciously working to express gratitude will have long-term positive effects on your health, well-being, and relationships. While consciously and intentionally expressing gratitude might change your outlook for the better, it will likely overflow to those around you as well.

How can you begin practicing gratitude?

  1. Make yourself a promise. According to Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert in gratitude, research shows making a promise or vow to perform a behavior increases the likelihood the action will be performed. Write your own gratitude vow and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
  2. Say “thank you” more often. Be specific, tailor your thank-you, and be consistent. Read more here.
  3. Keep a gratitude list or journal. Taking the time to write down what you are grateful for can help reinforce positive thoughts. This may counter the brain’s natural tendency to focus on what goes wrong. In the journal article Bad is Stronger than Good, researchers describe why the brain tends to focus more on the negative than the positive.
  4. Remember the challenging times. According to Emmons, it is helpful to remember the hard times you once experienced so you may be grateful in your current state. Remembering the difficult times compared to where you are presently helps create a contrast. “This contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.”

Interested in learning more? Check out my article 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace. I describe the ways gratitude may promote a culture of engagement in the workplace and I give three tips on how to show genuine gratitude in the workplace.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your personal expression of gratitude, or the expression of gratitude in your workplace, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 19th, 2017. See the full post here.