Do you feel demotivated? Consider how your work helps others.
There are many ways to encourage employee motivation and engagement, but one often overlooked opportunity is service. Studies have indicated that service to others is at the very heart of creating meaning and purpose in one’s life. And we all know that when we serve others, we feel more fulfilled, happy, motivated, and engaged. The good news is that each of us, in our daily work, has almost countless opportunities to serve others well. But it’s often difficult for employees to see these opportunities and for companies to properly market them. In this article, the author outlines six key groups that we can remember to serve every day.
No topic is as critical right now as employee engagement and motivation. Employees desperately want to feel engaged. Nine out of 10 people would accept lower pay to do more meaningful work. And engaged employees perform better, experience less burnout, and stay on the job longer.
This translates into business success for companies that motivate and engage their staff. Gallup found Employee engagement companies in the top quartile experienced a host of benefits compared to companies in the bottom quartile, including increased profitability (23%), increased productivity (18%), decreased absenteeism (81 %) and increased customer engagement (10%).
Yet most people are disengaged at work. A 2021 Gallup study found that only 36% of Americans feel engaged at work, and only 15% of employees worldwide feel the same. And the latest surveys show engagement stats plummet as we continue into 2022.
There are, of course, many ways to encourage employee motivation and engagement, chief among which is creating goal-oriented work cultures. But an often overlooked opportunity is service. Very few things are as positive for mental, spiritual, and physical health as service to others. Various studies indicated that service to others is at the very heart of creating meaning and purpose in one’s life. Research has also found that volunteering against stressfights depression, creates happiness, increases self-confidence, and even is positively correlated with physical health. And we all know that when we serve others, we feel more fulfilled, happy, motivated, and engaged.
The good news is that each of us, in our daily work, has almost countless opportunities to serve. But it is often difficult for us to see these opportunities and for companies to capitalize on them. Our opportunity is to rethink our work as a service and help our colleagues and employees do the same. This shift in mindset can be transformational, and there are six key groups each of us can consider serving each day.
1. Customers or Customers
At the heart of every business is a customer. If it doesn’t serve that customer well, it will fail. And yet, many of us feel alienated from this customer in our daily tasks. The accountant of a medical device company may never meet the people those devices save. And the shopping specialist at a theme park may not see the joy its rides create.
Finding ways to make this customer service real for employees is a major challenge for every person and every company’s management team. An executive I know did this by having customers speak at the company’s annual general meeting, emphasizing the difference the product had made in their lives. Professor Francesca Gino has written about a variety of ways to achieve similar results, including varying employee tasks and making videos about the impact of their work on end customers. Whatever the approach, finding ways to see through an activity the impact it has on the customer is essential to a service mindset.
Nothing is more important to happiness and fulfillment in life than the depth and breadth of our positive relationships. And positive workplace relationships are both sorely lacking in many environments and absolutely essential to engagement where they exist.
What might it look like if every person in a company decided to serve the people they work with the same way they serve their customers? This may involve managers learning how to better express gratitude and recognize better employees. But the heart of this change in mindset must reside in every individual in a company who chooses to act in service to others every day. The results could be a relational revolution. And all it takes is a change of heart from self-centeredness or competition to one of encouragement and support.
Every organization exists in a community – a city, town, district, country or state. Companies that implement community service programs enjoy a number of benefits, including increased recruitmentdevelopment, commitment and retention. And when structured to reflect employee interests and passions, these programs can lead to greater motivation among a workforce and a better reputation in the community. Professor Jessica Rodell, among others, has written extensively on how to make these programs effective, including steps such as prioritizing meaning, balancing bottom-up interests and top-down corporate structure, and involving stakeholders. other stakeholders – such as the people for whom the community service work is intended. to profit from. What opportunities does your organization have to serve its community right now?
This one is the hardest. For most people in a company, the shareholders of that company are a distant, often malevolent force. But in reality, most capital held by public companies comes from 401k, defined contribution plans, 529 plans, and similar programs that fund the retirements or financial needs of ordinary people. And many private companies are structured the same way. While it will probably never be as important as customers or colleagues, remembering that our work can serve the dreams and financial aspirations of people like us can make us feel better about the value we create.
5. Partners and Suppliers
Anyone who has been a salesperson or supplier to another company knows that this role can be difficult. Often those we serve as clients take advantage of us, neglect us, and take their frustrations out on us. We therefore have the opportunity, when we are the customers dealing with the suppliers and partners who serve us, to act differently – and even to adopt an attitude of service towards them. Individuals or companies that become known for serving even their suppliers will benefit from more agreeable relations with these partners and a truly differentiated reputation in the market. When we act to serve our suppliers, we can also feel better about our relationships with them.
6. People we love
We all work for a reason. Many of us work to support a family and provide opportunities. Those without a spouse or children often work to help their parents, siblings or friends. And many people use the proceeds of their labor to support causes and organizations close to their hearts. Even on difficult days, we can take comfort in the fact that our work is an act of service to those we love.
For service to be central to the work, it must permeate everything we do. It cannot be limited to volunteering outside working hours – although that is important – but rather must become a state of mind with which we approach all our professional activities. Those who remember these daily occasions of service will be happier and more fulfilled. And companies that promote them and keep them at the heart of their culture will benefit from a more engaged and motivated workforce.