The statistics that have emerged about U.S. employee engagement are eye-opening: Seventy percent of U.S. employees say they are not engaged at work. Strangely, few managers have a strategy to deal with the problem. I say strangely, because the answers to employee indifference are easily found. The fact that today's managers are having difficulty accessing them is indicative of just how disconnected we have become from basic human instinct.
Make a Difference
People want to make a difference. They want their lives, time and energy to matter. This is not meant to imply that a paycheck isn't important, but people work for more than just money.
At the polymer science company I ran for 34 years, we took an enormous leap when we realized we mattered. Until we re-examined how we defined our customer, we didn't realize our importance.
One of our products was highway striping paint, which was specified by state Departments of Transportation and purchased and applied by contractors with winning bids. For years, we thought the DOTs and the contractors were our customers. It was only when we realized the driving public was our real customer, and our real business was saving lives, that our business took off. This understanding not only provided tremendous motivation, but also inspired great innovation as this realization sank in and we began to look at product performance differently.
Mindfulness is a hot topic right now because people are beginning to discover its power to still scattered thoughts and improve focus. But beyond improving focus, mindfulness can foster inner connection. Ultimately, it's only when employees bring that which is deep within them 0- the best part of themselves -- to work that they are truly engaged. If they do not have the time and space, knowledge and tools to look within, they will never discover this inner connection.
"Discover the power within" is the motto of our company because ultimately, the best source of help for all of us is our own inner-resources. When you support employees and managers in knowing their inner-strengths, you bring the best part of them to bear on your bottom line. That's engagement.
Not only that, but the self-knowledge that comes from introspection is good as gold for helping your employees to manage others as well.
Connect to Purpose
The real purpose of every entity and every individual is to add highest value without holding back. Doing so requires a mindset and a focus that is not supported by the typical worldview. Most of the world is focused on having more and getting more in an environment characterized by distractions and noise. To help your people stay grounded, centered and focused on adding highest value, support them in finding it within themselves by frequently exercising their inner connection. In addition to mindfulness practices, yoga practice and meditation are helpful. So is asking penetrating questions that require them to look within, and giving them the time and space to do so.
Employee engagement happens when employees see their job as an integral part of their life journey. It happens you when you make room for the awareness that the most powerful, creative and meaningful thoughts come from allowing ourselves to experience the space between our thoughts.
Ratanjit S. Sondhe is the founder and CEO of Discoverhelp, Inc., a public speaker and the author of the new book, "How Oneness Changes Everything: Empowering Business Through 9 Universal Laws."