A Surprisingly Simple Way To Engage Your Employees

Forget the employee engagement platitudes -- here's some actionable advice!

For all the talk about the importance of employee engagement in the workplace, there are decidedly few specifics to act on.

When management gurus extol the benefits of engagement, they tend to speak in platitudes:  keep employees informed, involve them in decision-making, instill pride in the company, etc.

Lost in these trite words of wisdom is any semblance of something actionable.  What, specifically, can you as a business leader do to make your employees feel more valued and engaged?  Well, here’s one example:  Sit down on the job.

In a fascinating study conducted by the University of Kansas, it was found that hospital patients were markedly more satisfied with their doctor’s care if the practitioner sat down when conducting their rounds, instead of standing.

In the study, patients felt that doctors who sat down to speak with them actually stayed in the room longer than doctors who stood (even though, in actuality, standing doctors spent slightly more time in the room than sitting ones).

Patients felt that doctors who sat took more time to listen to their concerns, understand their needs and answer their questions – which made them happier and more satisfied with their care.  In a word, they were more engaged by their doctor.

While this study was conducted in a healthcare setting, it’s not a big leap to see how the findings apply to a business setting.

Time-poor managers and executives, if they even visit employees at their desks, typically do so in a flyby fashion.  They poke their heads into an office or swing by a cubicle, and they do it all while standing.

Efficiency-minded business leaders might think this approach makes perfect sense, but they overlook how it makes employees feel.  Standing signals urgency and impatience.  Sitting signals approachability and attentiveness.

Creating a better experience for those you serve – be it your customers or your employees – is as much about shaping perception as it is about shaping reality.  As this hospital study illustrates, small gestures can have a big impact on how people perceive interactions with one another.

So, this week, abandon the usual employee engagement platitudes in favor of some more actionable advice.  Walk around, check in with your employees, and make them feel valued – but no matter how brief the visit, grab a chair while doing so.

There’s no better reason to sit down on the job.

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Jon Picoult is Founder & Principal of Watermark Consulting, a customer experience advisory firm that helps companies impress their customers and inspire their employees.  As a consultant and keynote speaker, he has advised thousands of business leaders across some of the world’s foremost brands.

Contact Jon at www.watermarkconsult.net, or follow him on Twitter @JonPicoult.