February 10, 2016

Want to Create Engagement? Capture Hearts and Minds

Dr. Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCR Global Vice President of Workplace Vitality™ Mars Drinks

In our series on Workplace Vitality™, we’ve saved the most important factor for last: Engagement. Who isn’t talking about it today, what with all the press about how lacking it is across the world? Companies need engagement since it’s undeniably linked to business results and successful attraction and retention. And employees crave engagement, but how to achieve it?

Based on our broad-based research on Workplace Vitality , we’re able to draw some conclusions about what it takes. And we approach this conversation about engagement through the lens of workplace beverages. Because of Mars Drinks’ 100% dedication to the workplace, we are studying how and where work gets done and how the workplace works for people. Drinks have an important role to play.

Engagement is an emotional connection that translates into work effort. It’s not just a rational decision by the employee that the current job is his or her best bet. It’s also a heart-felt commitment to the work. It’s an experience of both the mind and the heart. And it’s this hearts-and-minds experience that translates into work effort. Not just a warm fuzzy feeling, it’s what causes employees to put in discretionary effort – that extra bit of work that bumps performance from ‘satisfactory’ to super and contributions from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Our research across 4,000 people in North America (building on our research of 3,800 people globally) including all kinds of work, levels, generations, and genders, demonstrated that this is what engagement is made up of:
• Passion to perform a job well along with interest and enthusiasm for the job
• A feeling that the job is important and meaningful
• The exertion of effort in a job
• A feeling that the organization overall is energizing
• The opportunity for ongoing learning and challenge
• The belief that doing the job well has positive impact

And all of this is connected to workplace beverages. We also found in our research that having a cup of coffee with others stimulates relationships and fosters connections. In order to be successful, leaders must build trust, relationships, and connections with and among team members, and workplace beverages help.

It’s about passion: When people do work that matches what they love to do, they will be more engaged. Want to know what drives someone’s passion and what energizes them? Share a conversation over a cup of coffee.

It’s about purpose: When people feel like their work matters to the whole – feeling alignment between what they’re doing and what others are doing, and the work of the organization, the will be more engaged. Need to clarify roles and reinforce how someone’s work matters to the mission? Discuss it while sipping a warm drink.
It’s about learning and challenge: When people feel challenged and when they are provided with situations that allow them to stretch and learn new things, they will be more engaged. Looking for a good debate or to challenge and stretch thinking? Create the opportunity by sharing a latte.

It’s about people: And finally it’s important that people feel connected to others. It’s not enough to be aligned with an esoteric mission statement or monthly financial goals. While these are important, they aren’t what will deeply motivate. Deeper motivation requires an authentic connection to others. We need to feel like our work matters to the people in our team and to the customers that our work ultimately serves.

While coffee or tea provide hydration and stimulation, they also provide the means for facilitating connections. Whether it’s the excuse to run into each other at the coffee machine or the opportunity to listen more fully with a drink in hand, our research suggests these have tangible impacts on relationships in the workplace. It’s about the drinks, but it’s also about the people. And the people are what matter most to our engagement. Having a friend, trusting others around us, and focusing more on others and less on ourselves are proven to increase happiness and engagement. It’s that complex and that simple.

For more on the factors associated with Workplace Vitality, check out our blogs on collaboration , well-being , and productivity.

Tags: Workplace Vitality