10 Nov It’s Possible to Help Employees Chase Their Dreams without Losing them

By Kelly Poulson

Chase your Dreams. Follow your Passion. Find your Calling. These ideas are all out there in the world, floating around in society for our employees to see, hear, read and quite frankly, feel overwhelmed by. It’s no wonder that many of our employees aren’t necessarily feeling as engaged as they could be at the office. They think they need to quit their full-time gig and double-down on their passion to be truly happy. They are waiting for a magical career fairy to appear to them and grant wishes. Acknowledging that this type of messaging is out there and impacting expectations doesn’t mean that it’s all doom and gloom when it comes to employee engagement and that we need to simply adopt an “it is what it is” mentality. Embracing their passions while sinking their teeth in at the office is possible for employees. There are many ways the employee experience can be enhanced or evolve around this that might not be as heavy a lift as we think. Let’s explore a few, shall we?

Better outside = Better inside

Helping employees be better outside of work helps them be better inside of work. If we think that people have the ability to leave whatever is on their minds outside of the office at the door, we’re wrong. We shouldn’t want them to either, as it brings more interesting perspective to any internal challenges we’re facing when real people with real-life issues work with one another to address them. Any way that we can support their efforts outside of the organization impacts who they are and how they contribute within the office. Wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, life coaching and employee assistance programs only scratch the surface. Too often, businesses categorize these offerings as a “nice to have” and don’t realize the detrimental impact not offering these services can have on human beings. And those human beings impact your business.

Acknowledge, Validate and Recognize

People need to know that they aren’t alone. They need to be heard and sometimes told that what they are feeling is valid or what they are doing is awesome. If we, as HR practitioners, are able to create that environment for them, honoring not only their passions within the business, but outside of it, we’re winning, not only in times of struggle but times where congratulations are due as well. Remembering, asking and talking about the marathon someone ran over the weekend or the trip-of-a-lifetime they experienced says something about what the organization cares about – the employee as a person, not simply a cog in the wheel. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recognition and its impact within an organization. It can be pretty simple.

Step one. Notice someone doing something great. Step 2. Tell them you notice, why it’s so wonderful and thank them for it. Meaningful thank yous make you think. They make you feel great and make you wonder when was the last time you did that for someone else. Hopefully, it motivates you to pay that feeling forward. Recognizing one another can start a chain reaction that flows from person to person throughout your organization. Improving interactions, improving moods and improving performance. What’s not to love?

Sharing is Caring

Sometimes, employees don’t feel empowered to see beyond their own role or department and realize the broader impact they might be able to have on the organization. Do you have any avid gardeners who would love to teach a 101 to fellow employees? (Sharing their passion while brushing up on their presentation skills and making new connections – win, win, win!) What about someone who is into martial arts who could teach self-defense or artists who would happily run a workshop or share their work? Create an environment where employees feel comfortable and valued for sharing their interests and skills. Encourage this type of sharing behavior. It’s infectious. It also builds relationships and confidence for those individuals, which will surely impact their day-to-day performance at work.

One last thing to consider. We certainly can’t ask employees to be themselves at work if we’re not doing it ourselves. I get it that it’s sometimes not ideal to go all in with employees when you need to maintain a level of professionalism. I’m not saying hit the bar and share your painful childhood, but you can share some of your favorite books or interests outside of the biz so they know you’re not a robot. Don’t get me wrong. This work certainly doesn’t all fall on the HR team. Far from it. However, quite frequently, we’re the ones leading horses to water. So, let’s lead them in the best direction possible. People can pursue their passions in your business if you get creative, even if it seems impossible.

Kelly Poulson has spent her career helping organizations and individuals kick ass and become better versions of themselves. Coaching, training, recruiting – you name it, she’s done it, and in a variety of industries ranging from advertising to behavioral health to tourism and beyond. She launched her coaching practice in 2009 and has since guided people to achieve dreams in all areas of their lives. Connect with at www.kellypoulson.com.

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