Recently we wrote a blog reflecting on the Simon Sinek TED Talk “starting with why”, discussing why starting with why is so important to the success of a leader or an organisation.
Starting with ‘why?’ means looking at the sole reason for why you do business; your goals, your values, your vision and your dreams. It’s not about the products and services you sell, but rather why you exist. This, the ‘why’, is what customers buy into and relate to.
But it’s not just the customers we do this for! ‘Starting with why’ is also the key to high levels of employee engagement, and we know that high levels of employee engagement mean happier, more loyal and higher performing teams. High employee engagement ultimately leads to better customer experience which, you guessed it, also helps the bottom line.
If company culture is the way we get things done around here, then employee engagement is the way we feel about the way we get things done around here.
Here’s some examples of successful companies who seem to be getting it right and demonstrate fantastic examples of employee engagement.
1. Virgin – Richard Branson
At the heart of Virgin is Richard Branson’s dream of building a work culture which puts the employee first. Branson focuses on employees truly enjoying their jobs and of course, being rewarded well for them too. As he says himself “we spend 80% of our waking lives at work, so it’s important that we do what we love and love what we do”.
Branson also puts emphasis on having purpose (the “why”) and why this is important to employee engagement.
“Purposeful businesses also have, in general, significantly higher rates of employee engagement, retention and productivity. And while you might not be in a position to employ people just yet, it’s important to think about structuring your business with purpose at its core, as this will improve your future prospects.”
After all, disengaged employees take 3x more sick days than engaged ones according to Virgin. It is this simple philosophy that makes Virgin such a success; if staff are happy then customers will follow.
Netflix is another organisation with employee engagement at its core. The Netflix core philosophy is “people over process” and this means that most rules and processes are out the window. Employees are given freedom to choose how much annual leave they take, how much maternity leave they take (paid of course), there are no spending controls and no expenses policies. Netflix trusts their employees to act in Netflix’s best interest when it comes to spending, and they ask employees to take good care of themselves when it comes to leave and maternity. Once employees are taking care of themselves and given complete autonomy to act in the best interests of the companies, innovation can take place!
Just take a look at the page on their website about company culture – at nearly 5000 words, they clearly take their company culture and employee engagement seriously. The result? A successful and innovative business.
“Our version of the great workplace is not sushi lunches, great gyms, fancy offices, or frequent parties. Our version of the great workplace is a dream team in pursuit of ambitious common goals, for which we spend heavily. It is on such a team that you learn the most, perform your best work, improve the fastest, and have the most fun.”
Netflix quote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince:
If you want to build a ship,
don’t drum up the people
to gather wood, divide the
work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn
for the vast and endless sea.
Supercell are one of the most valuable tech companies in Europe with a leadership goal like no other – to be the least powerful CEO’s in the world. Supercell thrive by giving all of the power to their employees; the game makers. They believe that the best people will make the best teams, and the best games will come from that.
“It’s ultimately the game team who decides whether to go ahead with or kill a game. At one point during the development of Boom Beach, which we launched in 2014, basically everyone in the company wanted to kill it — except the [team] who made it. I was thinking, what should we do? In the end, we went with what the Boom Beach team thought, because that’s the culture of Supercell. And thank god we did, it’s been a huge hit.”
Once the company had some global hit games, they felt a pressure to expand and push those games onto PC and console, despite knowing that mobile was at its absolute root. They found the courage to say no and stay focused on mobile and their root purpose; “to enable the best people, and the best teams, to make the best games.” and have continued to thrive as a result.
Loreal has taken employee engagement and raised it one generation with a culture onboarding app! Recognising the need for employees to feel they are a ‘good fit’ with a company, and the difficulty newcomers had of mastering L’oreals complex company culture – they developed an app to make the transition a little smoother.
With 10,000 new hires per year in 11 languages, that is one consistent way to get all employees on board with the complex company culture during their first month. The result is a globally engaged workforce who form part of the shared goals and values of their company culture from the get-go.
Employee engagement done right
It’s evident from just these examples that employee engagement is no longer just about good pay, ergonomic chairs, game stations and free fruit. Employee engagement goes way beyond this and to get it right, it really has to come from the heart. The companies excelling at employee engagement already have employees at their core and this shines through in their values, their company culture and ultimately, in the way that they do business.
Employees no longer look for jobs that just pay the bills (although that helps) – they actively seek out the right company culture and where they think they’ll make a good fit. If employee engagement and culture wasn’t important, websites like Glassdoor wouldn’t be so successful and companies wouldn’t be competing for ‘best place to work’ awards.
Does your company culture align with your purpose and values? Are your employees engaged? Do your employees values align with yours? We can help you answer all of these questions and help you to get your employee engagement right. Get in touch with Richard at Brightstone!