Words like ‘engagement’ and ‘culture’ can get thrown around with a lot of lip service and garner very little more than an eye roll from staff and leadership alike. So how do you make sure the company’s efforts are meaningful and truly connect with its staff?
Below are some tips to help build a strategy around engaging employees that goes beyond a laminated sign in the break room or an email initiative destined for the junk folder.
Understand what employees are looking for from the places they choose to work. Glassdoor has just released their 12th annual Employees’ Choice Awards revealing the 100 Best Places to Work in 2020 in the U.S., with lists in 8 other countries. This isn’t just a report for people looking to make a move to a better company. In there is a ton of useful information for leadership to understand what employees are truly looking for.
Common themes that have popped up this year from their extensive report show that employees are looking for the following: mission-driven company cultures, feeling valued, smart, collaborative colleagues, competitive compensation, robust perks and benefits, companies with a clear direction, opportunity for career advancement, transparent senior leadership, challenging/exciting work that delivers impact and work-life balance.
Make sure your company’s mission aligns with the purpose of the people you hire. As Glassdoor’s report shows, having a mission-driven culture is one of the top priorities employees are looking for when they are choosing a place to work. Jay Tuthill, owner of the global manufacturing firm, Tuthill Corporation, lives and breathes making sure his company’s purpose connects closely with every member of his staff.
His company operates by following their compass. This covers their purpose, vision, mission, values and brand. They’ve intentionally selected the values of curiosity, clarity, grit, grace, gratitude and love. He explains that sharing and discussing those values during the interview process has helped candidates to self-select whether to opt in or out. Those that feel the values are a bit too ‘woo woo’ are exactly the people that shouldn’t choose to work with them. But those that get excited about a manufacturing company that lives by those values are more likely to be fully engaged with what the company needs.
Bring your company’s mission to life. When asked how Jay Tuthill helps foster his company’s culture of purpose, he admits that he doesn’t care much for the word culture. He sees that it too often is just a bunch of words on paper vs. a living, breathing reality for the work environment. He stated, “Culture is a result of people making choices every day.”
Instead, he relies on direct dialogue with staff and listening for what’s really being shared at the water cooler. However, the need for leadership being intentional is still paramount. He recommends the following three simple, but not necessarily easy, steps to follow to make the mission come alive for everyone:
- Get clear. Know what the purpose of your company really is and commit to it.
- Communicate. Share and discuss that purpose with everyone, at all levels, frequently.
- Show up. Embody and actively support the mission from the top down.
Ensure leaders walk the talk. Peakon completed an attrition study this summer, which included more than 34 million employee survey responses. They identified ineffective managers as one of the top 4 reasons for why employees quit.
To address this trend, Peakon analyzed data from thousands of managers and their teams to identify which actions managers should take to increase employee engagement. Peakon-recommended actions have proven twice as effective as non-data-driven methods in driving employee engagement. Below are the top 3 manager actions for increasing engagement:
- Say hello and goodbye to your team.
- Make it easy to ask for guidance.
- Start hosting bi-weekly one-on-ones.
Invite people to figure out what they want. Finally, helping people to figure out what they want helps them connect to their own purpose, making their commitment to the company’s mission that much deeper. This requires more intimate conversations between leaders and staff. You have to cultivate and develop high levels of trust for people to be willing to be truly candid.
Jay Tuthill has set the tone for this for his company by actively supporting a documentary series called, “The Search for Aliveness.” The series spotlights people, from all walks of life, on their journey towards finding their own purpose on the planet.
I outline how to use the Pyramid of Purpose worksheet in my book, “Low Man on the Totem Pole: Stop Begging for a Promotion, Start Selling Your Genius.” In the book, I go over how work is just one of the bricks we use to build towards our ultimate purpose. Managers can use this as a way to tackle this very personal topic and still connect it to the work that needs to get done.
Ultimately, there’s no perfect roadmap for engaging employees. It is, after all, a very unique experience for each person. However, in this day of complex decision making, talent wars and need for innovation to remain relevant, leaders sitting back and hoping a paycheck will be enough to get the most out of their staff is no longer a viable option. Taking on some of the very basic steps shared in the article can have a deep impact on your company’s success overall.
Originally published by Forbes.