Many businesses struggle with motivating staff while aligning desired behaviours to corporate vision and values. In an age where personalisation of customer experience is king, employees are increasingly critical to business success.
Set against a backdrop of skills shortages and a buoyant employment market, keeping your best staff onside with business goals is critical.
The answer is not simply to throw money at the problem. Businesses must define and communicate the corporate vision and ethos in a way that resonates with the working lives of their employees. To encourage staff to live the company values on a daily basis it is vital to ensure that good practice is recognised by continuously sharing examples of how those values are being displayed. In most businesses, the aim will be to influence rather than instruct – except for where certain behaviours are mandated for regulatory or safety reasons.
An employee lifecycle approach
The corporate vision and ethos should be pervasive throughout the employee lifecycle. It starts with the way the organisation presents itself online, on social media and in the community so that the values are evident to potential employees before they even see a job advert. The values should be communicated overtly right through the recruitment process, on-boarding activities, performance reviews and exit interviews.
A level of scepticism among certain staff towards embracing a corporate vision is to be expected and may not be possible to eradicate entirely. However, there are steps organisations can take to minimise employee cynicism and distrust related to developing a corporate vision and ethos.
A starting point is to involve employees from the beginning in defining what the vision should be so that it makes sense to them and relates clearly to their daily activities.
Brave leaders will acknowledge where there is cynicism. Sometimes a little investment in time, taking these people aside from their workload and listening to their concerns, is all that is needed to get the cynics on-board.
Another strategy is to tap into people’s soft skills and appoint the sceptics as mentors, giving them responsibility for transferring business values to more junior staff. Leaders must demonstrate the desired behaviours – if they are not willing, any initiative to align behaviours to corporate vision and values will fail. Sometimes it may be enough to offer leaders a level of practical support, for example with communications tasks, to get them onside.
It is a good idea to connect rewards and recognition for good practice to local Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, linking the values of the company to the wider community, acknowledging that people have a life outside work and providing a sense of purpose for employees beyond their daily work role.
For example, the business could contribute a sum of money to local community projects raised as a result of rewarding employees for desired behaviour. With this approach, the company vision becomes a real, concrete entity – and it is much more effective than flyposting a statement of values around the building.
Rewards to support the corporate vision
Rewards and recognition can support your business ethos if it is designed to suit your employees. Simple thankyous can be formalised so that employees send each other automated thankyous to recognise work that reflects corporate values – electronic thankyous may suit some people, while others may respond better a postcard sent to their home. Women send more recognition than men – in one survey 36% of women recognised a colleague, compared to just 25% of men1. In-person awards of certificates suit the millennial generation who respond well to public praise from peers and leaders, while shopping vouchers may be effective rewards for older employees with families.
Measuring thankyous issued against defined values in a reward and recognition system will produce useful statistics. Perhaps there are low levels of recognition for an important value and there needs to be a further push on communicating that value. However, statistics must also be supplemented by a reality check – if monthly stats are always a surprise, managers should ask themselves why.
Are the values aligned with how the business actually operates? Organisations have been able to measure real benefits from rewards and recognition programmes – E.ON increased employee understanding of its corporate vision by 18% following the launch of a peer-to-peer recognition programme.
Here are some tips to help build a workforce with a shared corporate vision and values:
- Assess how embedded corporate values are. Ask yourself, do you know what your corporate values are? If you stop an employee and ask them, will they know?
- Keep it real. Activities to develop corporate values should tap into people’s intrinsic motivations to find real meaning at work.
- Consider new ways of measuring employee engagement levels beyond the traditional annual survey. Simple yes/no surveys sent to mobiles could be supplemented with deeper evaluations that ask questions designed to uncover more specific issues.
- Ensure communication is two-way and involves people talking to each other. A corporate vision expressed in woolly language achieves nothing apart from alienating the workforce. Keep it simple and say what you mean in words that your workforce will relate to.
- Consider making your recognition and rewards platform the beating heart of broader corporate communications reaching employees who are accessing the platform to give or receive rewards and recognition.
If a key goal of rewards and recognition initiatives is to produce better employee engagement, it is important to monitor levels of engagement – and act on those results. Less than 2% of CEOs look at employee engagement survey results more than once, according to a survey of US companies by Motivosity2.Yet growing businesses who focus successfully on developing a shared corporate vision stand to enhance workforce engagement and retention, while boosting profits.
1Staff Motivation Matters Employee Recognition Analysis