While attending a recent conference hosted by The Conference Board, I was struck by just how many attendees and presenters expressed like-concerns about their work places, regardless of industry, size or location of their companies.
Issues such as employee engagement, implementing new social technology, and improving the customer experience took top-billing. As I was reflecting on these rich discussions, I realized that each of those issues intersect here: None of them matter if your employees can’t honestly say, “I’m proud to work for my company” (and mean it).
More so than salary or title, people today value purpose-driven companies who do work that inspires others. Though employee engagement surveys can net metrics and base scores, they don’t indicate true happiness. Though social technology can enable communication and relationship building, they can’t inspire it. The most important thing companies can do is to create and foster an emotional connection with its employees so the pride and ownership that comes from being able to say “I’m proud to work here” bubbles over to clients, customers, and the bottom line.
According to a recent survey by Hyphen, the number of employees who are “proud” to work for their organization has fallen from half of workers at the start of 2012 to just 40% today.
How can your company ensure it’s not on this downward slide? As a leader, you must:
- Listen to your people
Fostering a strong culture of inclusivity among your teams to create transparency and trust begins with the simple act of listening. Listening to your teams builds relationships; when you respect your employees enough to listen to them they will take pride in where they work because you take pride in them.
- Reward “leaning in” at all levels
Conversations should be happening up, down and across your organization. At Pfizer, employees at all levels use “straight talk coins” to approach executives with their issues or concerns.
- Develop people’s “secondary strengths”
Make sure your people development is centered on the notion of secondary strengths: Instead of focusing on developing people’s weaknesses, focus on developing the skill at which they’re second best. By doing this, your team members can have an immediate impact, and feel good doing it, and you won’t have a team of people with “strong weaknesses.”
- Use authenticity to achieve business goals
Achieving (and sustaining) your organizational or team goals happen only when leaders and employees behave in a way that will net results. Be mindful of your behavior. Employees are perceptive to the actions of their leaders. If a leader doesn’t truly believe in and embody the value of what they do, employees can’t be expected to either. Ask yourself: Are you proud of where you work?
- Share successes
Employees can only feel good about where they work if they understand how what they do day-to-day is directly impacting another human being. Make that connection. Share customer feedback. Take your teams into the field to meet your clients and end-users. Create that emotional bond.
This is how we operate at Blue Beyond, and how we advise our clients. I’m proud to work here and am so inspired by the changes we’ve made in people’s lives and the impact we’re having in boardrooms. Want more about what we do? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.