People here are willing to give extra to get the job done: Of all the employees surveyed in the Top 25 Best Companies to Work For in the European Union 2011, 85% of the employees agreed to the above statement.
With the recent US election drama, one could picture analysts and psephologists going into a frenzy analysing and over-analysing all the data. But as someone who’s standing in that voting booth, just about to cast your vote, doesn’t it really boil down to one question – do I really trust this candidate to run my country?
And while disappointment in the country’s leadership might not always lead to something as drastic as mass immigration, it is more likely that disappointment in an organisation’s leadership will. An environment of trust is crucial, and one critical ingredient in building this environment at the workplace are inspired employees.
Different organisations have different views on how to nurture and achieve this. For example, India’s National Thermal Power Corporation's pride stems from the fact that “We light every 3rd light bulb in the country” – a statement that every NTPC employee proudly makes. This helps employees establish a connection between their daily work and a higher purpose their organization is striving to achieve. For Monsanto, employees identify with “bringing a smile to the face of Indian Farmers”. Hearing farmers’ testimonials on how Monsanto’s products and technology have helped them achieve a better standard of living, build a better house, get their children married, inspires employees.
In an industry where companies are rarely philanthropic, an investment management firm, Bridgeway Capital Management (USA) distributes 50 percent of their net profits to organizations which help improve the quality of community life. Such CSR activities, especially those that call for employee ownership and participation, help build inspiration. In 2008, Intel’s CEO challenged employees to give 1 million hours of volunteer service to local communities in celebration of their 40th anniversary. Employees didn't just meet the goal, they surpassed it. Employees donated 1.3 million hours to more than 5,000 schools and non-profit organizations around the world. Intel also links a portion of each employee's variable compensation to the achievement of Intel's environmental objectives. Imagine how inspired an employee would feel knowing that his/her variable compensation is a reflection of how socially responsible his/her actions have been!
Another path companies often take to inspire employees is emphasizing their vision and values. Lilly Deutschland GmbH, a pharmaceutical company, held a two-day value workshop for its entire staff to communicate its vision internally. Afterwards, a work of art was jointly created – a "value tree". Every member of staff created an individual part relating to the new vision. Finally, all the individual parts were put together to make a single tree. This was then put up in the lobby for all to see. The shared experience and the contribution every individual made helped employees feel they are independent bearers of the corporate values.
Great Workplaces exhibit novel and creative practices that fit their context so as to become a source of inspiration to their employees. They understand that inspired employees give their personal best to their work. However, it is not as simple as putting a few practices in place. Success is contingent on how people managers in the organization take it upon themselves to cascade the management’s vision and create excitement and awareness in their teams. They are the crucial link in this entire exercise.