A growing body of scientific evidence is disproving the notion that highly competitive, cutthroat workplaces are the most successful financially. Various studies have shown that stress in the workplace is a key contributor to declining health, with possibly as many as 550 million sick days annually resulting directly from workplace stress. While the assumption that pressure to perform motivates employees to work harder and, therefore, better, most employers don’t account for the costs incurred by workplace stress, which can become monumental very quickly.
How to combat this? Many employers have started offering up a smorgasbord of perks ranging from on-campus fitness centers to strategies that allow employees to work from home more frequently. Unfortunately, all the perks in the world don’t create active engagement: the key, research indicates, to lowered stress levels in the workplace and increased performance. Studies show that employees who are actively engaged are 28% more productive than employees who are actively disengaged, and 23% more than employees who are simply “engaged”.
So how does one foster active engagement in the workplace? Research indicates four key ways that employers can foster an actively engaging workplace:
Show empathy. A 2014 Cornell University study showed that employees who perceived their superiors as compassionate were more likely to maintain individual resilience and collective loyalty during difficult times. The likelihood that your employees will stick with you through thick and thin at work is vastly improved by their perception of you as a compassionate boss.
1. Foster social connections.
Research shows that employees who consider their workmates their friends simply work better. They are less likely to call in sick, become depressed, learn faster, remember more, and perform better on the job than employees who don’t have any social connections at work. Employers who encourage friendships among their employees are going to have a more driven, motivated workforce. The sense of camaraderie ensures that everyone feels that they are all striving for the same achievements within the workplace.
2. Go out of your way to help.
This study in particular shows the increase in employees’ loyalty to employers who have gone above and beyond. Employees who see their managers as not only helpful but self-sacrificing are more likely to be inspired by their management and therefore, more committed and driven towards the company’s success.
3. Encourage people to talk to you, especially about their problems.
Studies demonstrate that employees who feel that they can trust their managers are more empowered and driven to succeed. Additionally, employees who feel safe in their employment are more likely to be innovative and exploratory, encouraging greater growth in the workplace as well as lower levels of stress and fear.
The science behind the importance of an actively-engaged workplace is a study in interesting contrasts, especially as various industries, employers, workplaces, office styles and hierarchies all demonstrate differentiated results. What is clear, however, is that actively engaged employees prove more loyal, committed, motivated, and driven towards the success of the company, across the board. Whether in a call center, a small accounting firm, or an internationally-renowned mortgage loan corporation, workplace success isn’t motivated by money or perks. It’s motivated by employee engagement.