Engage Employees With These 3 Keys to Inspiration

Define your corporate purpose, revisit it often and connect your team’s activities to it.

February 10, 2023

MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—Every organization grapples with how to effectively engage teams and keep them engaged to drive customer loyalty and improve business results. The question is, how to get there?

Today’s workforce is feeling less inspired than ever before, and that’s true from the rank and file to the c-suite, research from Gallup indicates.

“The current disengagement rate of the American workforce is at 79%,” Kevin Paul Scott, co-founder of ADDO Worldwide, shared during day two of the 2023 NACS Leadership Forum, which explored inspiration, innovation and experience.

There's an additional 18 or 19% of the workforce that Gallup classifies as actively disengaged, he pointed out. Only 21% of employees are actually engaged with their work.

Why have people checked out mentally on the job?

“The top three reasons people cite are, ‘They don't have a connection to the mission or purpose,’” Scott said. “‘They don't have opportunities to learn and grow,’ and ‘they don't feel cared for’” at work.

“A lack of engagement is a result of a lack of inspiration,” he said. “Inspiration happens when there are a certain group of elements that exist at the same time, and they must be present in order to be inspired.”

In a Harvard Business Review study of 50,000 leaders, “the No. 1 quality people look for in their leader is someone who is inspiring. The truth is every single one of us can figure out how to be inspired,” Scott said.

These are what he describes as the three essential, indispensable ingredients for inspiration: purpose, problem (to be solved) and partners.

Companies need to clearly define their purpose and make sure every single employee knows it. “When you think about purpose, there are three things you need to do,” Scott said. “You’ve got to define it. You’ve got to revisit it often. You’ve got to connect their activities to it,” he said. “When the purpose is clear the mundane becomes meaningful.”

Still, purpose alone isn’t enough.

“For someone to be inspired, they not only have to have a purpose they're shooting for. They’ve got to have a problem or a challenge or obstacles—something that’s worth doing to overcome,” Scott said.

Boredom ensues when things are too easy to solve, he said. Effort is where learning and fulfillment come in. Then it’s important to have people to partner with you on the journey.

“If you are totally isolated and alone, it doesn't matter if you have a purpose and if you have problems to solve. Eventually you will lose the inspiration because you don't have somebody in it to share things with,” Scott said.

Look for more coverage of the 2023 NACS Leadership Forum in Monday’s NACS Daily and the April issue of NACS Magazine.

Kim Stewart is editorial director of NACS and editor-in-chief of NACS Magazine. She can be reached at kstewart@convenience.org.