As 2020 unfolds, we see that Glassdoor’s prediction of a culture-first decade is upon us. Company culture and employee engagement are differentiators for organizations. This rise in popularity is largely due to a long string of well-respected experts, with studies in hand, pointing to a solid link between employee engagement and company productivity, revenue, and key customer retention. More than ever before, leaders understand that to grow the bottom line, they must start by creating a culture of engagement.
Benefits of Employee Engagement
Think of employee engagement as the emotional commitment and willingness that people have to give their very best at work. When an employee is engaged, they fully activate their talents and give their work their all. When a team of employees are engaged, not only are the people happier, but the company enjoys significant improvement in three hard measures:
- Increased revenue
- Decreased employee turnover
- Improved key account retention
All three of these metrics are tied to, and will rise with, employee engagement, so if you increase engagement, you will in turn increase your company performance!
Four Engagement Elevators
With that understanding has come a tidal wave of employee engagement studies that companies can use to measure their engagement level and better understand exactly how their people are feeling and what they are thinking. Regardless of which tool is used, we find that when a company invests in this understanding, it really pays off.
Not using an engagement survey yet? That’s okay! Even before you lock-in on the right survey for you, you can still get a good sense of your engagement level in the office and begin focusing on the things you can do to boost it. You just need to know what to look for.
At Up Your Culture, we’ve discovered four distinct themes that separate the most highly engaged organizations from those that don’t quite measure up:
- Shared Mission
- People Development
- Valued Voice
We call these four areas the Engagement Elevators because when company leaders are focused and intentional about doing good work in these areas, they can significantly lift (or elevate) employee engagement.
In this four-blog series, we will take a deep dive into each of these four engagement elevators. As we do, consider how your organization compares to those that are highly engaged. Think about how your team is doing in that area today and then ask yourself how you can use each elevator to improve engagement on your team in the future.
Elevator One: Shared Mission
We call the first Engagement Elevator, Shared Mission. Think of your company Mission as your why. Your Mission tells your employees why the work they are doing is important. It guides, inspires, and rallies your employees to join a cause bigger than themselves.
Here are a few examples of company mission statements to help you frame this concept in your mind:
- Tesla—to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- Kellogg’s—to nourish families so they can flourish and thrive.
- Google—to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- Kickstarter—to help bring creative projects to life.
- Credit Karma—to help people be their best financial selves.
- American Red Cross—to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Organizations with highly engaged employees have a clear sense of where they are going as a company and why they are working so hard to get there. Their employees understand the Mission because company leaders have communicated it well, and with enough frequency, that every employee feels they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
They know where they’ve been as a group, where they are today, and where they’re headed in the future, and they feel as though they are on the journey together. Their shared Mission is like a flashing beacon guiding them along the way.
Companies that identify and articulate a compelling Mission also find they attract stronger candidates with a higher level of talent who have the passion and energy to join the quest and help carry the load. Ultimately, rallying around a strong Mission can attract top performers to the company and lead directly to a more talented team. This creates the momentum needed to take the company to the next level.
The Power of Storytelling
One of the most powerful ways top leaders communicate their Mission is through storytelling. The use of stories to instruct and lead has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. Storytelling dates back to the time of tribal leaders who gathered their people around the fire to share their oral history, impart their beliefs, and reinforce their values in the tales of both triumphs and tragedies.
In business today, storytelling plays a similar role, serving as one of the most powerful tools a leader has to turn dreams and goals into results. These narratives allow the group to develop a common language and they reinforce a strong sense of purpose for the work people are doing. And at the center of these stories lives the Mission.
How Does Your Company Measure Up?
Does your organization have a clearly-defined Mission that inspires and unites your people? If not, this is the time to identify your why and begin communicating it regularly. Work with your leadership team to nail-down why your company and the work you do really matters.
- What will you be remembered for?
- What impact do you make?
You will know you have been successful when your employees refer to your Mission on their own. You will also find that when your Mission is well defined, every tough decision will become a little easier to make. The right path will grow clear because you will have already determined your north star. You will know where you are headed and why.
Once you have identified your Mission, consider how you can get people to rally around it and feel a shared sense of purpose and dedication.
Don’t let these become words that wilt on the wall. Instead, challenge yourself to find ways to energize your people and make them feel invested in the journey!