Are your employees engaged—with their work, their workplace, and the broader goals of your company?

It’s a simple question with heavy implications for companies big and small. An engaged workforce is going to work harder, taking more ownership in the company and striving to provide better service, stronger sales, and so on. A disengaged workforce will put in the minimal effort required for a paycheck—which may keep the company afloat, but it’s hardly a recipe for growth or true prospering.

A Nation of Disengaged Workers?

While the question may be simple enough, a lot of business owners simply aren’t in a position where they can offer a positive answer. A recent Fast Company article reveals some bleak statistics: “In a nation where 70 percent of employees feel disengaged at work, according to a recent Gallup poll, companies can’t escape the reality that a dissatisfied team translates into worse financial performance.”

Continues the article, “Disconnected staff members are often less productive and less likely to nurture strong customer relationships—a symptom that can jeopardize the health of an entire organization. Need proof? Gallup research shows that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annually.”

How to Boost Engagement

That’s all pretty sobering, of course, but there is some reason for optimism: Fast Company says—and I agree—that a change to the company culture can increase the level of employee engagement. The article offers three ingredients that every company should try working with as it seeks to better engage its team members.

  1. First, there’s compassion. Answer this: When an employee messes something up, through an innocent mistake, does your response leave them deflated—or confident to move forward and not make the same again? The difference, often, is compassion. Make sure you’re equipping your managers to prioritize compassion in their interactions with employees.
  2. Thriving employees are more likely to face adversity head-on and spearhead transformation within their organizations,” the article suggests. “A thriving staff member maintains strong interpersonal office relationships and collaborates with others to overcome positive and negative changes.” So how do you ensure that your employees can thrive? Communicate company goals to your employees, but also assess their personal and professional goals—and try to empower them to meet them.
  3. Finally, the article advises leaving some room for “positive deviance”—that is, the notion that some employees are naturally nonconformists, and that’s okay. Certainly, businesses need to have standards, but encouraging some creative thinking gives employees permission to engage—on their own terms.

All good ideas—and all helpful as you orient your company toward the goal of true, gull engagement!