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There’s a lot of talk going around about engaging employees in their work as it will boost their overall productivity. And while this is a worthwhile goal to strive toward, inspiration works a lot better. According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, inspired employees perform best.

Based on the findings of this study, dissatisfied employees have a 71% average productivity output, satisfied employees have 100% output (taken as a frame of reference), engaged staff members will generate 144%, while inspired workers are at a whopping 225%.

To better understand what each of these satisfaction criteria (satisfied, engaged, inspired) means, we can break them into a sort of pyramid of employee needs. Just like Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, each of them builds upon the other. This means that you can’t have an engaged employee without them being satisfied as well.

  • Satisfied employees are generally characterized by a safe work environment, they have the tools to get the job done, and they don’t have to go through too much red tape to do so effectively.  Also, they are valued and rewarded fairly.
  • Engaged employees feel that they make part of an extraordinary team, have the autonomy to do their jobs and develop personally and professionally, as well as feel that they have an impact.
  • Inspired employees get meaning and inspiration from the company’s mission and become inspired by their leaders.

It should go without saying that those falling in the latter category will be more productive, as evidenced by the study mentioned above, as well as more motivated and creative. As an HR leader, it’s your responsibility to be a catalyst for employee inspiration. Yet, in Canada, only 32% of employees give their leaders an “A” grade when it comes to inspiring them.

How Can Conversations Inspire Employees?

It’s highly important to note that nobody can make inspiration happen within themselves. There’s always an outside force that acts as the trigger. Sometimes, this can be something as simple as a meaningful conversation that gives you a surge of hope, energy, and motivation. As such, these conversations are often preceded by a change in direction or a big decision.

Inspiring conversations don’t focus on giving advice or providing mentorship. They invite people to identify and articulate their dreams and talents, celebrate their potential, and take action on their ambitions.

In large, inspirational conversations, say from an HR leader to an employee, will have three main components. First, they are transcendent, meaning that they enable people to see beyond their everyday grind and notice the existing possibilities around them. Second, they motivate people to act on their vision. And third, have the power to influence people and evoke a sense of positivity within themselves.

The Four Ps of an Inspirational HR Leader

To inspire people through meaningful conversation, HR leaders need these four Ps:

  • Be present – by tuning out all other distractions and focusing on your conversation partner.
  • Be personal – by allowing them to talk more while you listen. You will provide genuine answers and encourage them to explore their potential.
  • Be passionate – by infusing the conversation with positive energy.
  • Be purposeful – by entering the conversation with the intent of making a real and genuine connection.

People in key leadership positions have the potential to inspire their employees with simple, yet meaningful conversations. The benefits that result from these encounters can do wonders for both the employee as well as the organization they work for.

Nevertheless, you will have to know a bit about your employees before you can attempt to inspire them. You will also have to make sure that they’re satisfied and engaged in their work.

Have you discovered any other ways to inspire employees in the workplace? What’s working with for you at your workplace? I am curious. I would welcome your comments and ideas. Let’s connect to discuss.

Connect with me at or call me at +1 (604) 943-0800.

Thank you!

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734