2020-01-27 HR Examiner article jason lauritsen employee engagement 3 Lessons photo img cc0 by alejandro luengo SPmWyDXQPsE unsplash 544x680px.jpg

“We have been solely focused on improving the experience that people have at work…But, we have overlooked something really important. As humans, we need help living better lives and having better relationships.” - Jason Lauritsen

I am increasingly convinced that the way we have been approaching employee engagement is like building a house without first pouring a foundation.

And then we’re surprised when the house keeps falling down.

We have been solely focused on improving the experience that people have at work. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot that needs to be done there. But, we have overlooked something really important.

As humans, we need help living better lives and having better relationships.

When our lives feel like a five-alarm dumpster fire, no amount of cleverly designed employee engagement interventions will flip some magical internal switch where we can suddenly compartmentalize that drama and do our best work.

Life is messy. Unless we are equipped to navigate that messiness, it is easy to get consumed by it. And that doesn’t bode well for doing our best at work (or anywhere else). Anyone who argues this isn’t true must have grown up on a magical island where nothing bad ever happened.

So today, instead of pithy engagement tips, I’m going to share a few things I’ve learned from fighting and surviving my own dumpster fires. Perhaps this will serve as a nudge for you to make 2020 a fulfilling year.

And maybe there’s something here to be learned about how to build a better foundation for your engagement efforts in the workplace.

3 Lessons for Building a Better Foundation for Your Life


Lesson #1: Make time for your people.

Time is a fleeting and nonrenewable resource. We all have the same amount each day until we don’t have any more days. What we choose to do with that time is the most important decision we often have to make.


Jason Lauritsen, HRExaminer.com Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

You must invest time if you want to have quality, happy relationships in your life. Fewer things in life are more important than spending time with your people. If you want to be happier, make more time to spend with the people you care about most.

In 2019, I committed to spending more time with my male friends because I felt like those relationships were suffering. I achieved my goal and today have closer and more rewarding relationships with male friends than I ever have.

Lesson #2: Have the conversations you are most afraid of.

I credit this advice to Susan Scott from her book Fierce Conversations, which I believe is one of the best books ever written for becoming a more effective human. Many of the things we want the most exist on the other side of the conversations we fear the most.

Whether it’s talking to your spouse about your lack of connection or your boss about why you keep getting passed over or your spiritual leader about your doubts or your parents about end-of-life planning, the reason you are so afraid of those conversations is because we fear the unknown. Pulling the pin on these conversations makes change inevitable. And change brings the unknown.

Take it from someone who’s been having these conversations for a long time: Stop putting them off. They are never as scary as you think they’ll be. Once they are behind you, two amazing things will happen.

You are set free from the trap of fear. And your life moves forward. You get unstuck. Things begin to change, most times for the better.

Lesson #3: Tell people you love them and believe in them.

I tell people I love them frequently. It often catches them by surprise, but I know it matters.

I try to be very intentional in the language I use with people. I want my words to encourage them, to lift them up, and to share my appreciation of who they are.

It costs us nothing to attempt to use our words this way. The potential payoff is huge. Why not try?

Just today, as I drove my daughter to swim team practice, we talked about how much our words matter. We are in total control of the words we choose to use when talking to other people (and ourselves for that matter). As a tween, my daughter is clearly experimenting with how she engages with others. I challenged her to think about why she would choose to use mean or demeaning language when she could just as easily choose to be positive.

It’s a lesson that took me many years to understand. Not only can we choose not to use language that hurts or makes others feel “less than,” but we have the power to lift and build people up in the words we choose to use.

Make sure people know that you love them. And tell people that you believe in them. The impact of these words is profound, particularly when the person on the receiving end of them may not love or believe in themselves just yet.

My Bottom Line: It’s All About Relationships

No matter which way I slice it, when I think about what matters most in my life, it always comes back to relationships. The better we get at forming and maintaining relationships with others, the better our lives tend to be. We all need a solid foundation of relationships in our lives. That is where our work should begin.

I’m sure I’ll be back to spewing traditional engagement advice soon, but for now, I hope you found this helpful.

Have you found a lesson to be really powerful in your life? Email me. I’d love to hear about it.

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