Why engaging and empowering your employees is smart business

Outrage sparked from unions and staff last month after monitors were placed under workers' desks at Britain's Daily Telegraph. The wireless motion detectors sense whether an employee is using their desk or not.

At my business we monitor a number of factors that measure human performance, including stress and recovery levels (autonomic nervous system) and bio age and cortisol (stress hormones). But I would never, ever consider introducing a machine like OccupEye.

The biggest myth I see in the corporate world is when (normally tired and stressed out) people try to convince me that hours worked equals productivity. Productivity equals hours worked doing your actual job.

I know some people who work three days a week and achieve amazing outcomes. I also know people who 'pretend' to work six days a week and accomplish stuff-all apart from low-level email, time-wasting meetings, distracting co-workers and constantly complaining about everything that is wrong.

Empower and engage

Managers who become fixated on micromanaging details like how many hours employees sit at their desks, how long people take breaks, email turnaround time and why employees don't answer their phone in five seconds, need to jump into a time machine and arrive in 'the now'.

It's a great time of the year for employers/managers to sit down with their teams and set out an exciting plan for the year ahead. Let's focus on five innovative ways to empower and engage your team.

1. Clear performance indicators

Your job is to communicate and deliver on clear goals that are set between yourself and the managers/leaders of your team. Once you set clear KPIs with designated timelines, forward-thinking managers don't worry about hours in the office as long as you get the work done. This creates a results-based culture and builds a bedrock of trust, which is the basis of all good working relationships.

2. Link career goals to personal goals

Money doesn't necessarily make our jobs more enjoyable. According to a 2013 meta-analysis, there was less than a two per cent correlation between pay and job satisfaction. In essence, money does not equal long-term employee engagement.

So what drives us to work hard? Interesting work, being challenged, and having responsibility. These are intrinsic motivators linked to emotions including our need for growth and achievement. It's about how we can invest our personal values and wants into those of the company to feel like we're contributing to its purpose and prosperity.

When leaders link employees' personal goals to the overall company goals, you get an alignment and energy that builds momentum.

3. Understand 'Energy Personality'

Do you spring out of bed in the morning? Or do you reluctantly roll out and take a few hours to wind up and fully get into the day? Individual energy levels fluctuate during the day according to sensory input from the environment and our inbuilt body clock (circadian rhythm).

Chronobiology is the study of circadian rhythms and has proven that matching daily tasks to energy levels and mood will boost productivity and help sustain performance throughout the day.

Scientists call the pattern by which our concentration levels vary during the day our 'concentration curve'. Understanding whether your employees are morning people (gazelles), evening people (bears), or a hybrid of the two (tigers) helps to set them up to do high-level cognitive work at a time when their brain works best.

4. Bring your whole self to work

How much do you know about the person sitting next to you, or even those on the other side of your office floor? Ten to 15 years ago, employees were encouraged to keep their careers and personal lives segregated, but this makes no sense nowadays considering how much time we spend at the office.

My colleague Jason Murray, from KPMG Performance Clinic, always talks about 'bringing your whole self to work', which means being interested in those around you and giving people snippets of your life so they feel equally comfortable sharing back with you. It shows that your managers and co-workers care about you as a person, not just an employee.

Research suggests when employees bring their whole selves to work, they value the company they work for. This is turn increases employee engagement, which is broadly defined as the "intersection of maximum contribution for the business and maximum satisfaction for employees".

5. Make work fun and engaging

At The Performance Clinic we do lots of things to add some colour to the working week, like going to a new coffee shop/outdoor area for meetings to get creative, having staff give development and learning talks at staff meetings, and collaborating with other innovative teams to help us think outside the box when trying to solve a problem. You'll get much more out of workers when things feel fresh and interesting, and don't be afraid to have a bit of fun from time to time.

What are the best ways you've seen to engage employees? Tell us in the comments below.