Editor’s Note: This post is part 3 of a four-part series. In previous posts, Start with Why and Lead from the Heart, we looked at the first two foundational pillars of Why-Based Organisations. Why-Based Organisations are special organisations where trust, loyalty, collaboration and integrity are the norm – and high performance is the outcome.

Nearly 65% of all U.S. employees don’t feel engaged* in the work they do, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest this is no different in the majority of other countries. This statistic means nearly two-thirds of the working population are turning up, doing work, getting paid and going home dissatisfied and disengaged.

What are these organisations missing when it comes to engaging their people, and why does it matter?

In our work to support the Police Service in the UK, we are seeing first-hand what it looks like when people get fully engaged. This particular Police Service has spent the time to discover their Why, which has served as the starting point to engage with their people in new ways. They are embarking on an unprecedented journey to transform the way they deliver their services to the community.

As a result of discovering their Why, everyone’s job will change, and they will define and prove a new, more efficient model for policing. Rather than downloading the message from the top down through the ranks, they are learning how to touch, move and inspire people – to engage them fully in the things that  matter most.

They are painting a picture of a future where everyone inside the Service will be enabled to do more of what is important to them, less of what doesn’t matter, and all in fulfillment of the Service’s Why. The work is about “serving everyone in the community to ensure they are free from harm, so that they can lead fulfilling lives.” Who wouldn’t want to get behind that?

The amount of energy that is being released, in terms of support, ideas, creativity and innovation is unbelievable as people engage with this vision, take action, solve problems and contribute to bringing these new ways of working into existence. With higher engagement, there is a release of discretionary effort, where people choose to bring more of themselves to the work they do. This does not look like a normal change process where ‘resistance’ has to be overcome, and programs are ‘rolled out’ from the top. It is more like a tidal wave of human potential energy released in service of a higher purpose.

Engaging Everyone, is a way that we ‘see’ and ‘feel’ how our work contributes to enabling our organisation to fulfill on its higher purpose, its Why, and gives real meaning to our work. Recall the story of the NASA toilet cleaner, who when asked by President Kennedy what he was doing, replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” Like this gentleman, we believe it is possible for each of us to find meaning in what we do when we feel it is in service of something we care about.

In my own experience, I have observed three keys that give access to a fulfilling work life:

  1. Doing Work That Matters – knowing how our work contributes to our organisation’s cause, purpose or belief.
  2. Being valued for our unique contribution – feeling appreciated for who you are, as well as your particular strengths, talents and skills.
  3. Being part of a family – feeling cared for inside your organisation as you would care for your family members. AND…not getting lost in doing the day to day stuff that doesn’t matter!

Here’s a test for us all.

When you get home from work, are you talking to your family and friends about the contributions you’re making, how it makes you feel, what you’re learning, and most importantly, the difference you are making in other peoples’ lives? If not, you are most likely one of the 65% feeling disengaged. We believe you (and all of us) deserve better!

Freud said, “love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Please join us in our mission to help build organisations that are full of people that love the work they do. This makes so much sense from a human perspective – but it also makes sense from a business perspective – creating sustainable, high performing businesses.

To read earlier parts of this series see:

Part 1 – Start with Why

Part 2 – Leading from the Heart

WhyNot Partnering (www.whynotpartnering.com), is an organisation dedicated to transforming the nature of work, by creating Why-Based Organisations**, where trust loyalty, collaboration and integrity are the norm – and high performance the outcome. To stay connected with us and to hear more about our work, follow us on LinkedIn.

* See the annual Gallup survey (via Dr Jim Harter) results below. Gallup Employee Engagement Survey

**For further information, see Why-Based Organisations