Earlier I blogged about how medical settings can use standardized techniques to create a caring environment without actually fostering empathy. The same can be done in the business world, but is there a real desire for it? Profitability has always appeared to be the goal that is far and beyond empathy. Employee engagement is simply a byproduct of luck, productivity, and governmental laws. I am certainly not talking about all companies. There is a powerful line that is drawn between those that prioritize people and those that do not.

Engaging people is not a short-term approach. If your organization is focusing on your team this is an endeavor that should take years. It should be a sustainable and improving process. Even in Human Resources the plan, do, check, act methodology works well. Plan a program, implement it, ask if it works, and make corrections.

Start at the top. If there are no organizational goals, policies, and programs in place the leadership has very little room to help grow. If the team continually talks about poor benefits or low pay, there is not much a supervisor can do to help further motivate. When a company does provide better-than-average resources, leaders have a starting point for engaging and listening. What is even better is when the leaders are empowered to help make and lead the changes.

I will close with an example. There were a few people on a small manufacturing site. It was not a super long walk to the break room But by the time they washed up, walked down some stairs, and walked to the break room, there was some time that was lost. The supervisor was already well-engaged and generally had a positive group of employees. They were not complaining, but the supervisor saw an opportunity. There was a small conference room near the manufacturing area that was never used. The supervisor cleaned it up, added a mini-fridge, chairs, and a table. Improvement through empathy and awareness. Sometimes, it is all about something small yet insightful.