Channel Your Inner Janez

Employee Engagement is a popular catch phrase. But what does it look like?

I have a friend whose elderly mother developed an anxiety-inducing fear of hospitals after a rather traumatic experience five years ago, most of which she attributed to the apathetic attitude of much of the hospital staff. Her mom had managed to avoid another visit until recently. But everything was different this time. And it started with a couple of bulletin boards. Upon entry to the floor, patients and visitors are greeted with a collage titled “This is Us.” On it are photos of hospital employees raising glasses of beer at a baseball game, a happy couple on their wedding day, a doctor on a dream vacation, and cherished pets. Further down the hall is a board covered in “Random Acts of Kindness” cards that patients, visitors, and employees can fill out to praise staff for their good deeds.

The hospital staff has found a way to inject some levity and humanity into an often stressful and challenging work environment, in a way that actually lowers the stress and heightens the human connection. My friend’s mom loved looking at the boards on her twice-daily walks around the unit. And she kidded her nurse: “Hey, I see you like Corona!”

And then there’s my favorite example that I experienced a year ago — my friend Janez. Last year when my husband, Bill, and I were returning from New Orleans, we arrived at the airport well in advance of our departure time in the hopes of catching an earlier flight. We ensconced ourselves at Gate Nine. And that’s when we met Janez, who was the Southwest Airlines gate agent that night. She picked up the microphone: “Ladies and gentlemen would you like to have some fun tonight?”

What ensued was a good hour of our fellow passengers — and yours truly — singing and dancing. Here’s the video where I recount the experience, and suffice it to say, it was a dream example of the power of bringing joy and fun to your everyday work.

You can create engagement in hospitals, in airports, and in factories. If there are employees, there’s an opportunity to increase engagement. But don’t take my word for it, check out this article from The Society for Human Resource Management: 7 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement Without Spending a Dime.

Do you have any examples of how you’ve channeled your inner Janez in your work environment? I’d love to hear them!

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