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The solution to low productivity and quiet quitting is simpler than most managers realize: It’s about making people feel that they matter.

A sad computerWorkers who don’t feel valued are more likely to be stressed, disengaged, or even defiant.

iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider

  • America’s workforce is lonely, disengaged, and relatively unproductive.
  • To boost morale and productivity, leaders need to provide workers with a sense of meaning. 
  • That’s according to the US surgeon general, Babson College professors, and leadership researchers.

America’s workforce is lonely, disengaged, and relatively unproductive. CEOs and managers have a vested interest in figuring out why: Their bottom lines are suffering. 

Productivity of the average American worker plunged earlier this year by the sharpest rate since 1947, according to government data. It’s since inched upward, but economists remain worried

Meanwhile, more than half of the workforce and “probably more” engaged in quiet quitting this year, according to a June Gallup poll

The solution is simple, but it requires work on the part of leaders to make workers feel like they matter. Workers who have that sense perform better, according to research from management consultancy McKinsey & Co. And that feeling of mattering to a business boosts the company’s bottom line. 

Managers who don’t give their employees a sense of meaning risk higher turnover, increased rates of quiet quitting, and lower productivity. Ways to make workers feel valued include fostering collaboration and teamwork, expressing gratitude and appreciation, and taking time to check in on workers’ personal lives, according to management professors at Babson College

Managers who don’t give their employees a sense of meaning risk higher turnover, rates of quiet quitting, and lower productivity.

“People want purpose in their lives — and that includes at work,” Jackie Wiles, content manager at technology research firm Gartner wrote in a January report based on a survey of more than 3,500 workers. “I would argue that ignoring it is, at the very least, shortsighted” 

CEOs who aren’t hands-on, visible, and genuine about mental health will lose talent 

Coworkers working in common area ofWorkers with a sense of meaning at their company are more loyal and productive, according to research.

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America’s workforce has become so disengaged that the US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the country’s highest voice on health and wellness, recently wrote about it in an October report

“People want to know that they matter to those around them and that their work matters,” Murthy wrote. “Knowing you matter has been shown to lower stress, while feeling like you do not can increase the risk for depression.” 

Mattering is a double-edged sword, Gordon Flett, psychology professor at York University, told The Wall Street Journal. Feeling like you matter boosts morale, while feeling insignificant can cause employees to act out in destructive ways like being hyper-competitive, angry, or defiant. 

People want purpose in their lives — and that includes at work.  

CEOs are being called on to not only boost profits, but to shepherd their employees. Here are three hands-on steps leaders can take to develop workers’ sense of purpose: 

  1. Dedicate time to checking in your employees 

In a January 2020 Harvard Business Review article, three professors at Babson College who study organizational psychology discussed their findings on how to increase a worker’s sense of purpose. Workers told them that simply hearing “Good morning” and “How are you?” from their manager made them feel good about the professional relationship. Workers also enjoyed the ability to share stories about their lives. 

“These interactions are actually valuable points of connection for your employees (and for you). They prevent your staff from feeling invisible,” Gibson and her coauthors wrote. 

  1. Give positive feedback and be clear on areas for improvement

Workers are more likely to feel like they have a purpose at work when they know where they are doing well and where they can improve, according to the Harvard Business Review article. 

An employee who only gets compliments will begin to wonder whether her manager is being sincere, the Babson professors wrote. Similarly, if a worker only gets criticism, he is likely to give up. 

  1. Create a sense of connection among your team  

In his October report, the surgeon general underscored the importance of creating a sense of culture at work. Encouraging collaboration and teamwork is one way to do that, he wrote. Expressing gratitude to your workers is another. There is one important note for leaders interested in boosting their team’s sense of meaning: It has to be genuine. 

“Purpose is not just ‘another corporate initiative,'” the McKinsey report stated. “You can’t mandate this. And if you approach your people with inconsistency, hypocrisy, or arrogance, you will likely do the organization — and your reputation — more harm than good.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider