Authentic bosses create an empowering work environment where employees’ voices are recognized and their expectations aligned with the company’s.

By Jenny Maganran Goh

Engagement is the buzz word in the global landscape. Today’s employers face a more informed and sophisticated generation of employees who envision working in an environment that affords them the space to grow and to feel valued.

Anand, who heads a large multinational corporation was just talking to Lee, the owner of a small cleaning business, about improving customer services. While Anand sees the need to engage customers as top priority, Lee believes in empowering his staff before anything else.

Employers who are all geared up like Anand to engage their clients for positive outcomes should also remember their own workers who are the key drivers. The era of a docile and subservient workforce is long gone, and in an age of high modernity, our millennial employees certainly expect more than our forefathers; they want to feel good about work and more importantly, to feel good about themselves. Many aspire to work in an environment that enables them to maximise their potential and to feel needed.

Surely, no employer would feel good about having a worker who does not feel good about work and works to watch the clock.  What makes the difference between a worker who works just to fill in the hours and the one who works to expand his horizons? Very often, studies suggest that people thrive in an environment where they feel safe, belonged and valued.

The truth is everyone seeks validation and though the best validation comes from ourselves, the organization should provide the impetus and space for one to contribute his best and to grow his talents or skills.

Here are 8 tips to engage your staff.

1            Communicate honestly

Do your staff feel comfortable interacting with each other?  Are initiatives and information rolled out to all staff, and do they get a chance to share how they can help achieve company goals? Employers should be ready to hear out their staff and seek to align their expectations with the company’s, thus achieving a win-win outcome.

2            Celebrate achievements

Everybody needs some form of positive reinforcement to reaffirm his efforts. Acknowledge contributions and efforts, however small they may be. No task is too insignificant to be noted. Often, an attitude of gratitude goes a long way to boost the morale of employees, especially new recruits.

3            Show respect

Do we treat every staff with respect regardless of their roles and statuses? Do we appreciate voices that are different from ours? Respect restores human dignity and steers us to greater tasks.

4            Encourage work-life balance

Some companies do not encourage employees to work overtime as workers need time for their family and private pursuits. A fulfilling family life will definitely increase job satisfaction. Life is about making priorities and seeking a balance between the demands of work and family. Workaholics aren’t necessarily the best of employees.

6            Foster collaboration

Employees need to see how their roles are intertwined with that of their colleagues in the organisation. The ability to embrace diversity, both in terms of personality as well as ideas, is a desirable trait that will improve work processes and spur creative solutions.

7            Break for coffee

Coffee breaks are so reinvigorating and refreshing, especially mid-day pick-me-ups. It drives away the tedium of working long hours and coffee chats are great at developing friendships. Bosses also get to know their staff better through casual chats.

8            Walk the talk

It is often said that leaders lead by example rather than words. So demonstrate random acts of kindness and keep that smile which are instant mood lifters for a monotonous work day. Indeed, a positive work experience creates a motivated leader who will significantly inspire his fellow workers to do likewise. This can only happen when the boss models what he desires in his staff. We cannot teach attitudes but we can inspire change.

Ultimately, when you have a highly motivated and passionate workforce, you have already clinched the best deal when it comes to the business of developing human capital. Authentic bosses create empowering work moments.

As vitality coach Nikki Fogden-Moore puts it, “Don’t underestimate the value you have inside an organisation to bring people back, [and] don’t be afraid to bring your personality into the role and show that you care.”