A large percentage of employees globally are disengaged and business is struggling to know what to do about it. The disengagement problem cost the US economy more than $500bn in 2014 so why, when the stakes are so high, is this such a difficult problem to solve?
In fact, an employer cannot directly engage any employee no matter how much money is thrown at the problem. The employee themselves has to feel engaged from the inside. This is a feeling that can’t be bought with movie tickets, achievement certificates, team lunches and the plethora of other rewards that may be available to middle managers who are tasked with keeping their teams motivated.
So if money can’t fix this, what will?
Ironically the fast track to engaging employees might cost nothing at all, and is one that everyone is equipped and empowered to start using today as either a manager, a co-worker or a customer.
We’re talking about gratitude… a no cost solution!
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Gratitude is an old fashioned value that is under serious threat from new ways to work.
With the advent of online shopping and customer self-service, it is common for customers to only interact with another human when something has gone wrong.
In the back offices of modern businesses, systems, workflow, process automation, and teleworking can mean the daily balance has shifted from a majority of positive human interactions to few, and often negative ones.
People haven’t changed, but the way that people work has.
The workplace has become less intimate, less emotional.
Whilst computers don’t react based on emotions, humans do. When we spend so much time at a screen interacting with devices, we can sometimes forget the difference when interacting with people.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy
The good news is that you can start to turn the tide on disengagement by making a conscious effort to show gratitude in your workplace and beyond.
7 simple ways to start a gratitude habit as a customer, co-worker or manager
- Make an effort to notice when someone is helpful or kind, and be specific about what made a difference to you. Perhaps someone listened carefully to your needs, guided you to a better decision, trained you in a new skill, or was flexible with their time.
- Be prompt. If like many you are uncomfortable with specific face to face feedback, leave a post-it note or send an email or thank you card to express your gratitude.
- Be an advocate for the people you appreciate. Spontaneously highlight to a manager why you are grateful for them, and how they make a difference for you.
- Recognise the little things. Gratitude isn’t reserved for heroic acts. Did someone bring your printing from the printer, take a message whilst you were out, swap a shift or fetch your lunch. You might be surprised how many small acts of kindness have gone unnoticed once you take a closer look.
- For every negative observation or complaint, make a conscious effort to find 5-6 positive observations. High performing teams recognise positives 5.6 times more frequently than negatives, and having some positives ‘in the bank’ makes the negatives easier to raise when necessary.If you’re having difficulty, reserve 5 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on what you were grateful for that day and keep a journal to follow up on these.
- Distinguish between issues and intentions. When good intentions backfire and things just don’t go according to plan, be sure to show gratitude for the good intent. Remember, someone resolving an issue may not have caused it, and may not be able to fully compensate for it no matter how hard they try.
- When someone thanks you for what you did be appreciative in return. Let them know that their effort didn’t go unnoticed.
The best places to work are places where teams are grateful for what is given to them and aren’t afraid to show appreciation.
It’s down to each individual to create and sustain that culture and reap the benefits by being a part of it. So if you are feeling disengaged, be grateful that you can change that, starting today.
What sort of strategies have you used in your business to nuture employee happiness?
Author: David Perks
David is the CEO of Pay Compliment, a platform to directly share real-time feedback between customers, peers and managers in private so that customer service standards and employee performance are maintained to the highest possible levels in real time, all of the time. Follow them on facebook and twitter.