Michael R. Bonsignore, the former CEO of Honeywell recently said: “As we move into the 21st century, it’s increasingly clear that the key elements of social responsibility–especially how we support our workers, their lives and communities–will be key elements in a company’s productivity and competitiveness.” (Italics added.)
All companies want to be productive and competitive in the marketplace. To achieve that, you must build your organization around employees who are engaged in living your particular brand values and delivering your unique brand experience to customers. Employees choose to engage in the company cause when they feel valued and have clarity around the company vision and strategic values.
This sense of feeling valued is key. Research tells us that the leading driver of employee engagement is a sense of opportunity and wellbeing in the mind of the employee. This sense is achieved through frequent, specific and timely recognition: essentially, shining a light on each individual employee and the contributions they make.
While an engaged workforce is a goal of every organization, one question is continuously asked: how do I know if I have engaged employees? Extensive research of 300,000 employees over ten years has shown that there are three key characteristics of engagement:
1. Loyalty. Loyalty is better than retention. People we merely retain may or may not be engaged in living our brand values. Loyal people are proactive, taking personal responsibility for the organization. They innovate, create, conserve and go above and beyond for the company on a regular basis.
2. Productivity. The productive employee is both effective and efficient in their role. Effective because they give you a full day’s effort and they produce quality results. Efficient because they learn to do that same job in less time, thus expanding their capacity and the capacity of the organization.
3. Advocacy. Engaged employees become advocates both internally and externally. Internally they will be supportive of their associates, effectively talking them off the ledge when things are stressful or challenging. Externally they will bring other quality people to work for the company while promoting the company’s product and services to potential customers.
Applying the accelerant of appreciation to your corporate culture will stimulate and reinforce behaviors that convey the brand values and the unique brand experience of your organization to your consumers. The result: not only do your employees choose to engage with you, but your customers choose to engage as well. When your customers are loyal, productive and advocates for the organization, you have truly achieved success!