Employee Engagement–What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Piggy Bank and Red HeartIn a recent post for the Harvard Business Review blog, editor Gretchen Gavett reported the latest Gallup research on employee engagement.  In the article, Ten Charts That Show We’ve All Got a Case of the Mondays, we learn—again—that the majority of the U.S. workforce is woefully disengaged and has been for many years.  We read—again—that disengagement is associated with anxiety, stress, pain, low creativity, and future turnover.  Think about that…anxiety, stress, and pain.  Wow.

These facts should sound really familiar to us.  They probably feel familiar, too—unfortunately.  The purpose of such articles—and this blog—should be to stimulate our determination to improve the situation.  But how?

The thing about engagement is that you can’t go at it directly.  You have to work on the many conditions—some of which we used to call working conditions—that contribute to employees feeling stressed, fearful, and disinterested in the work.  And Blanchard’s research into Employee Work Passion and Optimal Motivation can be really useful to you here.

But, more than discussing the 12 factors that you can improve to help employees feel genuinely passionate about the work and the company, I want to encourage you to contemplate where your heart is.  And for that exploration, I’d like to ask you to contemplate these three questions—and read one book:

  1. What do you want from your employees?  List the top ten things you want—or maybe even expect from them.
  2. What do you want for them?  In your heart of hearts, what do you want them to experience at work?  What kind of experience do you want them going home to their loved ones having had all day long?
  3. What differences are there in the tone of the two lists?

I have run this simple experiment dozens of times throughout the world.  The lists are always the same.  And there is always a difference in the tone and “vibe” of the two lists.

The key idea here is this:  If leaders don’t make the shift from fixating on demanding more and more and more from employees without regard for their well-being, no one will ever get out of the disengagement vortex they are in.  We will just read another article about it next year.

What is needed more than anything is the soft stuff.  More warmth, more emphasis on the deep meaning of one’s work, more discussion about values linkages, more love.  Yep.  More love.

If that last point strikes you as a little crazy, check out Tim Sanders’ Love is the Killer App.  It’s a wonderful read…and perhaps the best gift I can give you today.

This heart shift is a vital part of the strategy to improving the motivation and engagement of your employees.  If you want them to shift their energy and be more engaged, shift your heart and love them more.  Then, pour that love into improving the environment they work in.  Our research shows that they will notice, and they will naturally turn that noticing into improved engagement.  Funny how that love thing works…

About the author:

The Motivation Guy  (also known as Dr. David Facer)  is one of the principal authors—together with Susan Fowler and Drea Zigarmi—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new Optimal Motivation process and workshop.

3 thoughts on “Employee Engagement–What’s Love Got To Do With It?

  1. Thanks for the engaging article Motivation Guy!

    When I was in grad school I encountered the work of Viktor Frankl an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. The book Man’s Search for Meaning was an important read and has stayed fresh with new applications throughout my life and in understanding the world around me. As the CEO of a company that deals with communication, training, performance and change, I have had many moments to focus discussions on meaning and purpose.

    What I have seen within my own company SweetRush as well as with our client partners’ organizations is that the moment you tip a conversation in this direction the lion’s share of people will be ready with a flood of ideas and even desires for bringing more meaning into the work cultures they are a part of.

    As an entrepreneur activist, I see many of our social and environmental (and yes financial) solutions in an increased connection of what gives us meaning and purpose to the opportunities around us. Recently, my colleagues wrote a blog about bringing this sense to our training work http://www.sweetrush.com/does-your-training-have-meaning/

    The rise in this very type of dialog in the business community and the speed it is gaining is impressive and brings me a great deal of hope that we can make our society more positively productive for the work our children will inherit.

    Good Things!

  2. Thanks for a very stimulating and thought provoking conversation. Here in Australia we have been having great conversations with businesses of all shapes and sizes about building a “Thank God it’s Monday” culture. To work a the ‘source’ of this kind of culture is to work on the key capabilities of building a common purpose with values that stem from “love” vs “fear” based behaviours (acknowledgement vs. blame, etc). A great piece of research on this can be found at http://altusq.com.au/resources/engagement-capability-report-2013/

  3. We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in
    our community. Your site provided us with helpful info to work on.
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