Employee engagement is a major buzzword. It’s posted on the bulletin board in the break room. It’s one of your organization’s “core values.” But what does it really mean to keep your employees engaged?
Let’s start with this: employee engagement doesn’t mean happiness. An employee can be satisfied at work, but not motivated to go above and beyond in order to help achieve your organization’s goals. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who feel a profound connection to their company. Being engaged with a company requires an emotional commitment to a company’s main mission and greater purpose.
Does your company lead with a purpose that people can connect to? Purpose matters more than ever before. It’s driving buying decisions and is also increasingly driving employment decisions, especially for young people. In a 2016 Monster survey, 74% of Gen Z ranked purpose above paycheck (similar numbers for Millennials: 70%; Gen X: 66%; Boomers: 67%). Young people are shaking up workplace expectations demanding meaningful experiences.
To stay relevant with today’s workforce, engaging your employees requires fresh tactics and ongoing development. A common approach to employee engagement is to a) start a program, and then b) hope for the best. Simply having a program may lure some potential hires in, but if it fails to connect workers to the heart of your purposeful mission, there’s really no point. Having an authentic program for employee engagement is critical to the success of any organization.
Here are three ways to define your brand by purpose and increase engagement:
1. Know who you are talking to; one size does not fit all
Who are you trying to reach? How do you inspire them? 77% of employees claim that company-sponsored volunteer activities are essential to employee well-being, yet the average volunteer participation rate is 33%. What gives? This could happen for a number of reasons, but it’s important to take into account the diverse backgrounds and motivations of your employee base. Remember, one size does not fit all. Not everyone wants to give financially and not everyone wants to (or can) volunteer, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to give back or get involved. First, understand the subsets of your team and what appeals to them. Then create engagement activities and opportunities that hit that appeal.
2. Invite your employees to participate in your mission
Warby Parker co-founder David Gilboa says:
“The number one reason that we hear people want to work for us is our social mission. So we’ve seen how absolutely critical it is to connect the work that goes on every single day to our overall mission: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”
The company rewards employees who have been there for three years with the opportunity to travel to see their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program in action. This is an excellent way to share with employees, firsthand, the company’s impact outside of the office.
Levi’s encourages and trains employees to be ambassadors for water conservation through their Project Wet. Ben & Jerry’s takes on everything from racial justice to refugees, missions unrelated to ice cream, because these issues are important to their own employees. Purpose isn’t about a mission statement. It’s the why that drives your business forward and invites others to take part.
3. Create a community
The power of peers is real. A core driver of engagement is community. People are eager to develop friendships on the job and there is a strong link between having friends at work and employee engagement. Former Pixar CEO Ed Catmull says,
“What we can do is construct an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashes everyone’s creativity. If we get that right, the result is a vibrant community where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary.”
Community matters, and fostering it inspires a broader sense of purpose and belonging that drives success. It takes an intentional, authentic approach to bring purpose to work in a way that drives passion and makes a difference in your business. An admirable brand for employee engagement places purpose at its core and is THE differentiator of standout companies today.
Sources: SHRM, Monster, iSolved