Imbuing employees with a sense of fulfillment, connection and purpose can really help productivity but in order to create the bedrock of this engaged workplace culture, leaders need to reframe how they behave – and employing a more conscious leadership style is the first step.
It’s no surprise that employees who are actively engaged in their roles feel connected to the company’s mission, their peers and their leaders. Engaged team members are also 17% more productive and less likely to move jobs, but motivation isn’t always linear.
People’s personal lives, mental health and other factors can affect their performance and willingness to participate in their roles. Checking in with your team to understand their wants and needs is crucial to creating connections within teams and with you as a leader.
It’s unrealistic for leaders to expect employees to be enthusiastic about their job 100% of the time, but it’s important to recognise when someone is disengaged in their role. A disengaged employee will cost the company time, money and effort in the long run. So how do leaders tackle the challenges of fostering connection and engagement in the modern workplace?
More than ever, people don’t view their jobs as simply paychecks — they want to find purpose, meaning and satisfaction in their roles.
Why are employees disengaged?
When the world went remote, it created a breakdown in communication between people in organisations. Some companies adapted well, while others struggled to keep people engaged all the way from their home offices. Lack of connection to the purpose and direction of organisations was a major factor in the Great Resignation. People lost a sense of belonging within their company and pursued work elsewhere. If they didn’t leave, they lost focus. Productivity was affected too.
For many employees, this disengagement catalyst made them reconsider their priorities. More than ever, people don’t view their jobs as simply paychecks — they want to find purpose, meaning and satisfaction in their roles, and the modern world of work needs to be an extension of their talents and passions. We spend a large portion of our lives at work, and when employees don’t feel connected to their role, they become increasingly disengaged and unproductive. Engagement leads to immersion and when we are immersed in our work, we achieve more.
A more conscious approach to leadership
Organisations must incorporate a more holistic approach to working together to stay aligned with their people, encourage meaningful connections and hopefully as a result see work immersion take place. Employees are strongly influenced – and motivated – by authentic leaders who foster honest and transparent communication in the workplace. Conscious leadership means acting with integrity and setting an example for workplace behaviour.
Developing conscious leaders is an ongoing process. Here are some steps you can take to embed consciousness into your business.
1. Have empathy and self-awareness
Conscious leaders understand their employees are human and can put themselves in their shoes through empathy.
A self-aware leader pays attention to their emotions and how they affect their management style. They know their strengths and limitations, continuously seek improvement opportunities, and hold themselves and others accountable.
Make sure your leadership development programmes provide the guidance and space to allow leaders to build these capabilities.
2. Be collaborative and value open communication
Encourage leaders to ask for feedback from their teams and consider constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow.
Conscious leaders accept they are humans who sometimes make mistakes and create genuine opportunities for open communication channels. When people feel safe sharing their ideas, they will be much more likely to connect with you, generating trust.
Conscious leaders know they are not superhuman. They are mindful of their limitations, and when asked how they are, they accept vulnerability in telling the truth if they need help.
3. Create a sense of belonging
When conscious leaders make an effort to create community and an inclusive work environment, their employees feel emotionally supported. They are far more empowered to do an excellent job, are more engaged with the team and feel like their presence has meaning.
Create inclusive systems and processes and educate your leaders to understand the behaviours, biases and thinking that gets in the way of inclusion and belonging.
4. Have clear expectations
Creating connection in the workplace can be as simple as setting clear expectations for what your team members need to do. When people are confident in the outcomes they need to achieve, they take ownership of their work, and there is an opportunity for growth for both leaders and their team members.
Conscious leaders set clear direction, recognise hard work and challenge their employees to stretch themselves and develop new skills.
Permission for honesty
Conscious leaders know they are not superhuman. They are mindful of their limitations, and when asked how they are, they accept vulnerability in telling the truth if they need help. Allowing leaders to be honest sets them and their teams up for success – and gives their team permission to ask for help as well.
Leaders need to feel able to express their needs and support each of their staff in the best way possible – to meet their needs too. Effective, honest, two-way communication creates psychological safety, which is fundamental for connection in the workplace.
How self-aware are you as a leader?
Unless you fully recognise and understand your behaviour as a leader, you may not be creating an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up. If you aren’t taking a conscious approach to leadership, you may hinder connections, create disengaged team members and miss out on the benefits reaped from work-immersed employees.
Taking a psychometric assessment can help you better understand yourself and your leadership habits to create and improve connections in the workplace. It can transform the way you lead and bring you to a more proactive and productive way of working.
Natasha Wallace is the Founder and CEO of The Conscious Leadership Company, a leadership development and psychometric platform that empowers leaders to take care of their performance and wellbeing. TCLC helps leaders thrive with tech that encourages them to continuously learn, reflect and track the way they feel — so they can do the best possible job and feel good while they do it.