The facts are clear. Improved engagement in your business delivers higher productivity, greater profitability, better customer ratings, reduced staff turnover, lower absenteeism, fewer safety incidents, and a much more enjoyable working environment. Engagement drives company culture and business growth (and gives you the ultimate competitive edge).

Of course, you want your employees to work harder, focus more, and be more productive, but the trick most businesses are trying to learn is how to motivate their employees to also want to do just that!

Let’s pretend you’re the owner of a fast-growth business selling ice cream. New stores are opening and business is brisk. But, let’s step back for a moment and look at a hypothetical (!) disengaged employee – one that’s texting her day away behind the counter of one of your stores. She couldn’t really care less about scooping ice cream into waffle cones, but she still has a reason to be there. If you, as the employer, can find that reason, you’re halfway to creating an engaged employee and unlock her true potential.

Most managers go wrong by demanding that their employees care about what they care about, whether working longer hours, improving the quality of their work by going the extra mile, or keeping the floors clean of sticky ice cream! Instead, start with finding out your employee’s goals and dreams. For our hypothetical ice-cream purveyor, the goal might be saving enough money for an end-of-summer holiday with her friends. That is the goal with which she is emotionally connected and excited about, and even though it has nothing to do with your goal of selling more ice cream, you have the power to connect the two.

Ask yourself, “How can you align this young woman’s dream to enjoy time with her friends with your goal of improving the quality of her work?”

You might incentivize hard work by offering her more hours, or a small monetary bonus for a job well done. Most importantly, by showing a sincere interest in her personal goals, she’ll know you care about what’s important to her – as well as what’s important to you. Not only will you engage your employee, but statistics show that she will be likely to stay with your business for longer, make your customers happier, and sell more ice cream than ever – because she wants to.

So, ask yourself how much do you know about what’s important to your employees outside of the workplace, things they want to do, the goals they want to achieve. Then ask yourself, how can I help them get there. Simply opening up the conversation with genuine interest often creates a big goodwill deposit.

Help them get more of what they want, and they’ll help you get more of what you want. It’s that simple.

Learn even more about creating an engaging business with employee engagement vs. employee well-being.