If you want engaged employees– critical to the success of your business–beyond the obvious of treating them with respect and providing fair compensation, change your emphasis from what Rosabeth Moss Kanter calls “output to impact – from how many products are sold to how much the products enrich peopleʼs lives in the broader society.”
We crave meaning in our work lives. We want to know that what we do matters, counts, is important–whether it’s putting widgets together on an assembly line or assisting in an operating room. Sure, it may seem easier to pump up employee enthusiasm when they are in life-saving occupations, but think about it: the employee who puts that widget together properly is integral to the safety of the machine or vehicle or whatever it is, and thus to the safety and well-being of the end user.
It’s up to you to see to it that your employees, from all departments, are well versed in the importance of what they do. Kanter’s recommendations are sound: “Repeat and reinforce a larger purpose. Emphasize the positive impact of the work they do. Clarity about how your products or services can improve the world provides guideposts for employeesʼ priorities and decisions. As part of the daily conversation, mission and purpose can make even mundane tasks a means to a larger end.”
What your employees do, matters. Let them know it. Lend your enthusiasm, your belief, your engagement to that cause, and your employees will bring their enthusiasm to yours.