Not even the New Year is enough to spark enthusiasm in an unmotivated employee. That frustrating fact is highlighted in a recent Gallup poll that found 70 percent of employees are either not engaged in their current jobs or they're actively disengaged.
That doesn't mean all is lost, says Emma Seppälä, the science director of Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, she writes about three things leaders can do to improve employee well-being and increase motivation.
Here are Seppälä's three giving suggestions below.
1. Give purpose
Clocking in and out of work is not inspiring. But if you infuse purpose into your company, you're employees will be inspired and engaged. You can't just add the tagline, "we're making the world a better place," however. You need to find a sincere purpose, either stemming from your product or service or a program you adopt. Seppälä says you should also be selfless in how you treat and interact with your employees.
"Studies show that when [leaders] act selflessly, proving they care more about the group than themselves, workers are more trusting, cooperative, dedicated, loyal, collegial, and committed," she writes. "Bosses who show they are fair also inspire greater dedication, citizenship, and productivity...." Make sure to work alongside your team members on a daily or weekly basis, showing your allegiance to them and to the broader organization."
2. Give kindness
If your office is cold--as in socially and emotionally cold--your engagement levels will likely suffer. A study out of the UK finds that companionship and recognition promote loyalty more effectively than high salaries. (Note, don't use this as an excuse to not pay a competitive salary, unless you want untalented employees.)
She further cites other research confirming that positive and warm relationships are one of the most important predictors of psychological well-being. "So leaders must be mindful about the culture they are creating and the sentiments they express at work," Seppälä writes.
Your culture needs to be anchored by respect and consideration and warmth, all of which have been found to increase productivity and creativity in individuals and teams.
3. Give wellness
If you give employees a gym discount, but do not make it acceptable to use the gym due to inflexible work hours, you're not supporting wellness. To truly support wellness means your culture actively encourages self-care as a priority, she writes.
"According to Sabine Sonnentag from the University of Konstanz in Germany, exercise, breaks from work, relaxation practices, and more strict boundaries between work and home can reduce job stress and increase employee well-being and engagement," Seppälä writes. "You can also encourage people to take more care with a basic resource: sleep. A well-rested staff is a happier and higher-performing one."