At Brand Integrity, we’ve worked with hundreds of organizations to help them create an even better place to work. As part of that process, we start by either defining or understanding the values that are important to them.
Based on the data we analyzed, organizations across multiple industries tend to gravitate to the same top five values. So, it begs the question: if a majority of organizations share the same values, what makes their cultures and their customer experiences unique?
The answer is: employees who understand how to bring these values to life.
We know companies truly stand out and excel when employees understand, and are recognized for delivering, thoughtful experiences that support values such as “Superior Customer Service,” or “Operational Excellence.” Those experiences delivered by employees transform your organization’s values into unique benefits your customers, patients, or guests can’t get anywhere else.
The bottom line is that its not enough to have a list of great values. Nor is it crucial to develop a list of unusual or unique values. The magic happens when leaders and managers take the values off the walls, and get everyone to live them every day. Learn more about how to do that, here.
Every touchpoint a job seeker has with your company (job descriptions and postings, application forms, job web pages) should clearly convey your organization’s values and its expectations for employees. This practice will help applicants decide if your company is right for them before they even apply. And, you will increase your odds of acquiring a new employee who is a great fit for your culture.
Remember: It’s simple to train someone a new skill. It’s almost impossible to change their beliefs and behaviors if they don’t share your organization’s values.
Cue the eye roll, we’ve all seen this before: Your already busy workday is suddenly interrupted by a kickoff for yet another new initiative. You roll up to the meeting, grab a snack and a seat and wait for the show, all the while wondering how long the latest idea will stick around.
Like you, I’ve been through (and executed) flavor-of-the-month programs before. They generate a ton of hype and hope, then land in resentment as they fade away. It’s exhausting.
So, why does this happen? How does an idea with great intentions not work out?
The most likely reason is a lack of a plan to make it stick. Great ideas are created and rolled out to teams all the time, but unless a strategy is in place to make that great idea work for the long haul, it’s at risk to fizzle out like the ones before it.
This is the same reason so many employee engagement programs are seen as just that, a program. Leaders have all the right intentions to change culture and engage employees—but, soon after they present the newest set of core values that define “who we are” during a fun employee rally, then post the values all over the office, people are ignoring the posters and can’t remember what the values are because they don’t know what to do with them.
It’s not to say that employees don’t believe their company values are important. In most cases, they do! But it’s the “what’s next” that matters. Leaders can help employees connect the dots between living the values and driving engagement when they commit to these two things:
When an engagement initiative becomes a flavor of the month, it’s often because leadership felt it was someone else’s job to manage it—usually HR’s and/or managers’. Leaders know culture and engagement are important, but they often don’t want to be the ones to lead it. And, they don’t know how impactful it will be to the organization if they do.
Just last year, a CEO for one of our clients confessed that he had given himself a goal and a deadline at the start of our partnership. He shared the promise he made to his team: If the work they were embarking on to change their culture was not successful in three years, he would resign. It is a commitment he’s lived up to by not just defining the culture he wanted their organization to have with actionable values and behaviors, but by leading the charge in making it happen. Two years later, the work environment is becoming the one he’s been striving to create. This change is measured by the increased participation and scores in their engagement surveys, the enthusiasm and participation in their recognition program, and—more importantly—in the way it feels to work at the organization. The vision he and his team had for their culture is the way they are living it. His commitment and leadership is proof to his employees that he takes culture seriously and that the constant focus on it isn’t going away… and, as a result, neither is he.
Reminders don’t introduce something new, they influence consistency. By integrating company values and behaviors into existing processes, you are reminding employees of the experience you expect everyone to consistently deliver (internally and externally) and why it matters.
Another client leader once shared with us, “I have a whole stack of binders sitting on a shelf that were great ideas… but no one ever reminded me to do them.”
Engagement can’t be sustained with training and a binder, it has to become a part of what you’re already doing. And just like with almost everything in our daily lives, we need reminders.
The best reminders are the ones we don’t even notice. Imagine you could rate how consistently the values and the behaviors that define them happen with those in your work environment. And that the company uses those values and behaviors to recruit, hire, and onboard new employees. Imagine that they are measured in performance reviews and even live in the day-to-day dialogue in ongoing meetings and in appreciation and recognition activities. These are the reminders that ensure the values—and what they stand for in driving engagement—are not all talk.
Are you seeing what we’re seeing? Employee recognition programs have changed dramatically over the past five years. This shift parallels a growing understanding of the importance of retaining top-performing employees and re-engineering employee recognition as a core business function. What’s behind this change? Numerous studies demonstrate that companies that include strategic recognition as a measurement within their strategic plan show improvements in engagement, productivity, retention, customer service, and morale.
Here are four ways that forward-thinking organizations are harnessing employee recognition to impact business outcomes in 2017:
1) Regular feedback is replacing the annual review
Are performance reviews still a once-a-year event in your organization? Millennials—and soon Gen Z—are not prepared to wait a year to get feedback on how they’re performing. These groups grew up in a mobile world of online conversations, instant responses, and constant feedback and they expect this in the workplace too. Organizations are starting to realize this and act on it… because they know they’ll lose them otherwise.
2) Top-down recognition only is becoming a thing of the past
Not only do millennials expect regular feedback, they expect to receive it via mutual ongoing conversation—not through the hierarchy-led, top-down processes of the past. Many companies have worked hard to create a culture of recognition, but they’ve focused on developing managers to “do” recognition. While manager input will always be important, peer-to-peer recognition also plays a role in helping employees feel valued and connected to the organization.
3) Employee recognition is being integrated into human capital management strategies
There’s a new strategic value being placed on not just motivating the team, but identifying precisely the types of behavior that translate into business success. Increasingly, recognition programs are valuable coaching opportunities that reinforce desired employee behaviors, which can result in more effective sales, enhanced customer experiences, and longer-lasting customer loyalty.
4) New talent looks for cultures of recognition
In the red-hot competition for qualified new hires, it’s becoming clear that job seekers respond favorably to businesses that actively promote a culture of recognition. Businesses with cultures that “clearly value innovation, people development and strategic thinking attract higher quality employees,” notes business author Rob Peters. “Intelligent organizations utilize recognition as a way to regularly advance the aspects that make up a high performing culture.”
(This article appeared in Senior Housing News. Click here to read it.)
Article Summary: After embracing a technology-forward platform to better engage its employees and communities, one California-based nonprofit senior living provider has seen a significant reduction in turnover. Beyond the measurable outcomes for the bottom line, the provider, be.group, has also seen improvements in the resident experience.
Since implementing the platform, be.group has seen its nursing turnover drop 45%. In its dining services alone, which is a major driver of senior living success, be.group reduced turnover by 67% in two years. The focus on employee engagement and resulting reduction in turnover has helped improve customer experiences.