What’s worse than people hating what they do?

Not caring at all. Indifference is the worst.

The blank stare and dragging heels.

Doing just enough and watching the clock.

The absence of any emotion, good, bad or ugly.

I’ve felt it. I hate it. I never want to go back there. I don’t want it for other people either.

85% of the global employee base is unengaged at work. There has to be a better way.

If you read the Gallop blog on the topic, it points to the need for better performance management systems as the solution.

Sure, let’s do that. Better systems, better decisions, better managers could all help.

But none of that has a hope of working if a person doesn’t care all that much about their job, their customer, or what happens after 5 pm.

Indifference is the worst…and there is an antidote.

Research by Adam Grant, Wharton Management Professor, and his team shows how connecting people to the purpose and significance of their work improves persistence, motivation and results.

  • For university fundraising callers, a five-minute meeting with a single scholarship recipient is sufficient to increase the average caller’s weekly effort by 142% and weekly revenue by more than 400%.
  • For lifeguards, reading four stories about other lifeguards saving drowning swimmers increased average monthly hours worked by 43% and helping behavior by 21%.

(The control groups spent time learning about the personal benefits of the jobs.)

As I look back to the many recruiting conversations I’ve had over my career, how many focused on salary, benefits, days off, etc.? Too many.

Connecting people to purpose may be the most important work you do. And it’s not limited to employees. It’s the community you build inside and outside your organization, and it extends to partners, customers, and your industry at large.

They are all people. And they all want a compelling reason to join the effort.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

Elie Weisel

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