If you want to encourage personal growth and energize your employees, let them talk to each other about what matters most.

Americans spend a significant portion of their time at work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 34.5 weekly hours, or roughly 20 percent of each week. Assuming workers get an average of seven hours of sleep a night, that means we spend almost 30 percent of all our waking time on the job.

Given these figures, it’s important to understand why creating a workplace culture that helps employees feel fulfilled will result in greater levels of happiness, as well as improved employee retention rates. This is a complex undertaking, of course, but one effective strategy focuses on the conversations happening at work.

Here’s why meaningful discussions matter, and how to promote them within your office:

Conversations promote intellectual curiosity.

A 2017 State of Company Culture report by Snack Nation found 61 percent of engaged employees said their workplace positively challenged them, while just 12 percent of unengaged workers felt challenged at work. In 2015, a Rackspace survey found that 63 percent of employees believe curiosity plays an important role in business revenue growth.

Meaningful conversations promote intellectual curiosity about the world around us and the part we all play in it. They also encourage dialogue, even in situations where workers attempt to reach a consensus over differing points of view.

An office culture that encourages these conversations empowers employees to learn, feel challenged, and explore the world. This fuels achievement, personal growth, and company productivity.

They energize people and keep them thinking creatively.

Engaging in meaningful conversations about philosophy, economics, or even sports or politics forces us to think creatively. We try to bring new points to the discussion that those around us haven’t heard. Ideally, we listen to others’ arguments with an open and flexible mind.

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