Going through our routines like hamsters on a habitrail, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. People do it, companies do it. But if you’re a leader who cares about employee engagement, you need to be the one pulling everyone out of their humdrum malaise and creating an inspiring culture.
According to surveys by America’s Charities, 88% of company leaders believe effective employee engagement programs help attract and retain employees. Seventy-seven percent of respondents believe that offering employee engagement opportunities is an important recruitment strategy to attract millennials. PwC has found that employees most committed to their organizations put in 57 percent more effort on the job—and are 87 percent less likely to resign—than employees who consider themselves disengaged.
Sure, it’s no secret that high employee engagement is the holy grail. The question we all struggle with is: how do we get there. And too often, leaders overlook the direct path between strong volunteer and giving programs and employee engagement.
But there’s hard data that proves the connection. As just one example, according to Project ROI, a well-designed community involvement program can increase employee engagement up to 7.5%, increase employee productivity by 13%, reduce employee turnover by 50%, and increase revenue by as much as 20%.
One of the reasons for the success of smart volunteer programs in engaging employees has to do with the WHY. TED talk guru Simon Sinek is so obsessed about the WHY that he wrote a best-selling book on the topic, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
Why does your company exist? Why should employees want to get out of bed in the morning day after day to work for you? Is it just about profits and a paycheck, or something more? Something bigger?
A study by TINYpulse found that only 42% of employees know their organization’s vision, mission, and values. Do you know your bigger WHY? Do your employees?
Take a look at these employee engagement quotes by Simon Sinek and then consider whether you can better clarify and communicate your own organization’s values and greater purpose:
“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
“Instead of asking, “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?”
“If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?”
“When people know WHY you do WHAT you do, they are willing to give you credit for everything that could serve as proof of WHY.”
“Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down.”
“The lack of a clear set of values and beliefs, along with the weak culture that resulted, created the conditions for an every-man-for-himself environment, the long-term impact of which could yield little else than disaster. This is caveman stuff.”
"When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute."
“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they'll work for you with blood, sweat, and tears.”
“Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order.”
“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
“The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”
“Children are better off having a parent who works into the night in a job they love than a parent who works shorter hours but comes home unhappy.”
“Studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job. If more knew how to build organizations that inspire, we could live in a world in which that statistic was the reverse - a world in which over 80 percent of people loved their jobs. People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.”
“Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.”
“Average companies give their people something to work on. In contrast, the most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.”
“Every company, organization or group with the ability to inspire starts with a person or small group of people who were inspired to do something bigger than themselves. Gaining clarity of WHY, ironically, is not the hard part. It is the discipline to trust one's gut, to stay true to one's purpose, cause or beliefs. Remaining completely in balance and authentic is the most difficult part.”
“There are many ways to motivate people to do things, but loyalty comes from the ability to inspire people.”
“Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people—supporters, voters, customers, workers—who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.”
“It’s not Bill Gates’s passion for computers that inspires us, it’s his undying optimism that even the most complicated problems can be solved.”
“When our leaders give us something noble to be a part of, offer us a compelling purpose or reason why we should come to work, something that will outlive us, it seems to give us the power to do the right thing when called upon, even if we have to make sacrifices to our comfort in the short term.”
“Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years.”
“He gave the “I Have a Dream” speech, not the “I Have a Plan” speech.”
“Imagine if every organization started with WHY. Decisions would be simpler. Loyalties would be greater. Trust would be a common currency.”
“A company is a culture. A group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs. It’s not products or services that bind a company together. It’s not size and might that make a company strong, it’s the culture—the strong sense of beliefs and values that everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist, all share. So the logic follows, the goal is not to hire people who simply have a skill set you need, the goal is to hire people who believe what you believe.”
“Trust does not emerge simply because a seller makes a rational case why the customer should buy a product or service, or because an executive promises change. Trust is not a checklist. Fulfilling all your responsibilities does not create trust. Trust is a feeling, not a rational experience. We trust some people and companies even when things go wrong, and we don’t trust others even though everything might have gone exactly as it should have. A completed checklist does not guarantee trust. Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain. With trust comes a sense of value—real value, not just value equated with money. Value, by definition, is the transference of trust. You can’t convince someone you have value, just as you can’t convince someone to trust you. You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do.”
Inspired? Good! Now think about how you can amplify your company’s values throughout your communication and actions with employees and customers. Define your WHY and make sure that every stakeholder is as clear about this as you are.