If you’ve ever wondered how to more effectively engage your employees/associates/team members/whatever your corporation calls their workforce, the answer is simple. Get to know your people. What do they value? How can you invest in them? The amazing result is that as companies invest in their people, a return on investment exhibits through a more innovative and productive workforce.
So what do people value?
Over the past year, I have researched work cultures. Some positive, some negative. Among them, clear themes arose.
Vulnerability breeds trust. So does the following value of transparency. Trust means allowing employees to do the job they were hired to do and spreading their wings when ready. A strong employer-employee relationship also means coaching employees when a failure has occurred. Failure is valuable. Employees should not fear repercussion but feel freedom to acknowledge when something hasn’t gone according to plan and how the future will be impacted by what they learned. Managers should be present to support employees by kicking barriers out of the way but also offering guidance when it is invited. Relationships require an investment from all parties of trust, respect, and appreciation.
It’s difficult to create a meaningful relationship of any type when it is built on lies or fog. An organization that is open with its employees about business decisions, financial health, and other important corporate components invests in a relationship with its people. Buffer recently went so far as to create Open Salaries. You can read their insightful perspective on transparency here.
3. A Meaningful Mission
Allow your employees to feel like they are doing something of impact and you will fuel their fire. FamilySearch isn’t just about building a family tree. It’s about connecting families and bringing them closer together. Did you know that knowing about your ancestors is the single best predictor of a child’s emotional health and happiness?
You can also involve your employees in the creation of the mission or mission supports. Amazon is a great example of this. They strive to be the “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Amazonians (the nickname for Amazon employees) are passionate about what they do. You see this in details such as Subscribe and Save, Recommendations, or AmazonSmile. These features and benefits make life easier for the customer and allow the customer to be philanthropic while making necessary purchases.
4. People Building
I would propose that instead of “managers” we have “people builders.” An organization built with the mentality of building every individual trickles down to every level. Training ranked high in every successful organization, with the average top 100 companies to work for providing 80 hours of training annually for employees. When employees are built up, they not only have the resources and capability to perform their job function, but they also feel valued and are more likely to be engaged in their work. Other ways to invest in employees is through internal job opportunities, digital network building, benefits, and supportive policies. A relatively inexpensive people-builder is simply getting to know your people. Now, clearly this needs to be done through a network – but it can be bi-directional for information flow. A recent interview by a top employer mentioned a special gift for an employee who had recently realized a significant achievement. This employee had told a story of a football player he met at a young age and who read to him. The company surprised him with a signed jersey and helmet of this football player. They listened and they showed they cared.
5. Work-Life Balance
In this digital age, it is increasingly difficult to leave work at work. Companies who foster work-life balance are gaged as employers of choice. Employees who take regular vacations report better mental and physical health. As employees expand their families, parental leave becomes increasingly important. Currently the United States ranks in the bottom three next to Swaziland and Lesotho for parental leave policies. Employers of choice offer paid parental leave, day care options, and flexible work (compressed work week, flex hours, remote working) which support working families. The expectation of the workforce is changing as a new generation emerges. Just as personalization is key in marketing efforts, personalization in a work environment is increasing in importance.
So there you go. Five values to build off of. Value your people and they will value you.