Aloha at Work

Let’s face it. Going to work is not like going on vacation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t bring the spirit of aloha to our organization. Most of us translate aloha as hello or goodbye. But in the Hawaiian language the real meaning of aloha is peace, love, and compassion- I extend aloha to you. Too often we take a short sighted aloha approach to talent – one focused on welcoming employees on their way in and exiting employees on their way out. What if instead we focused on the talent within our organization, cultivating a positive and empowering environment?

It’s clear a change is needed. According to the 2016 Gallup Survey, 51% of employees are looking for a new job.  Only 31.9% of workers are engaged in their job. The implications are astounding.  Study after study shows the correlation between engagement and customer satisfaction, productivity, and quality.  So before our top talent packs their bags, let’s unpack a new approach to talent – one that draws on the peace, love, and compassion elements of aloha. Here are three suggestions:

(1) Provide peace of mind.  Employees want to understand the business strategy and know that their work impacts organizational results. So let them! Show them how they make a difference. Ask for their input and act on it.  Collaborate with them to set clear objectives that drive both business results and their motivation.

(2) Know what your employees love.  I love the list of questions posed in David Hassell’s Mindreading 101: Questions to Ask Your Team Every Week. Ask your employees about their wins this week. Ask what you are doing, or should be doing, to make them more successful. Ask for their ideas on how to improve your products and services. By understanding what they love you can also evaluate what they hate and try to eliminate rules, processes, and communication practices that push down morale and productivity.

(3) Be compassionate. Webster’s defines compassion as  the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it. Employees define it as my boss cares enough to listen to me and to give me honest feedback. Give employees your full attention when they express their frustration. Help them see the big picture. Coach them on what they might say or do differently next time.

Engagement isn’t about leis or luaus. It’s about making a difference for both our employees and our customers.  So before you head out on your next vacation, how might you bring some aloha to your workplace?

One thought on “Aloha at Work

  1. I love this! In my internal communications practice we emphasize connecting employees to strategy and connecting them to leaders. Direct managers have SUCH opportunity to make a difference in engagement by doing both of those things.


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