Chase your Dreams. Follow your Passion. Find your Calling. These ideas are all out there in the world. Floating around in society for our employees to see, hear, read and quite frankly, feel overwhelmed by. It’s no wonder that many of them aren’t necessarily feeling as engaged as they could be at the office. They think they need to quit their full time gig and double down on a passion to truly be happy. They are waiting for a magical career fairy to appear to them and grant wishes. Now, acknowledging that type of messaging is out there and impacting expectations, doesn’t mean that it’s all doom and gloom when it comes to employee engagement and that we need to simply adopt an “it is what it is” mentality. Embracing their passions while sinking their teeth in at the office is possible. There are a plethora of ways the employee experience can be enhanced or evolve around this that might not be as heavy a lift as we think. Let’s explore a few, shall we?
Better outside = Better inside
Helping employees be better outside of work helps them be better inside of work. I don’t care if we use the words authentic, whole self or any of the other ways it is being referred to out in the world. If we think that people have the ability to leave whatever is on their minds outside of the office at the door, we’re wrong. We shouldn’t want them to as it brings more interesting perspective to any internal challenges we’re facing when real people with real life issues work with one another to address them. Any way that we can support their efforts outside of the organization impacts who they are and how they contribute within the office. Wellness programs, Tuition Reimbursement, Life Coaching, and Employee Assistance Programs only scratch the surface. Too often, businesses categorize these offerings as a nice to have and don’t realize the detrimental impact not offering these services can have on human beings. And those human beings impact your business.
Acknowledge, Validate & Recognize
People need to know that they aren’t alone. They need to be heard and sometimes told that what they are feeling is valid or what they are doing is awesome. If we, as HR practitioners, are able to create that environment for them, honoring not only their passions within the business, but outside of it, we’re winning. This means not only in times of struggle, but times where congratulations are due! Remembering, asking, and talking about the marathon someone ran over the weekend, or the trip of lifetime they experienced says something about what the organization cares about. You as a person, not simply a cog in the wheel. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recognition and it’s impact within an organization. It can be pretty simple. Step one. Notice someone doing something great. Step 2. Tell them you notice, why it’s so wonderful and thank them for it. Meaningful thank you’s make you think. They make you feel great and make you wonder when was the last time you did that for someone else. Hopefully, it motivates you to pay that feeling forward. Recognizing one another’s awesome can start a chain reaction that flows from person to person throughout your organization. Improving interactions, improving moods and improving performance. What’s not to love?
Sharing is Caring
Sometimes, employees don’t feel empowered to see beyond their own role or department and realize the broader impact they might be able to have on the organization. Do you have any avid gardeners who would love to teach a 101 to fellow employees? (Sharing their passion while brushing up on their presentation skills and making new connections – win win win!) What about someone who is into martial arts who could teach self defense or artists who would happily run a workshop or share their work? Create the environment where employees feel able to offer to do something along these lines. Encourage that type of sharing behavior. It’s infectious. And builds not only relationships but confidence for those individuals which will surely impact their performance on the day to day.
One last thing to consider, we certainly can’t ask employees to be themselves in work if we’re not doing it ourselves. I get it that it’s sometimes not ideal to go all in with employees when you need to maintain a level of professionalism. I’m not saying hit the bar and share your painful childhood, but you can share some of your favorite books or interests outside of the biz so they know you’re not a robot. Don’t get me wrong. This work doesn’t certainly doesn’t fall all on the HR team. Far from it. However, quite frequently, we’re the ones leading horses to water. So, let’s lead them in the best direction possible! People can pursue their passions in your business, even if it seems impossible if you get creative.