Would you be excited if your boss started a meeting saying: “I want to remind you that you’re a cog in a machine whose primary purpose is to hit our financial targets”?
It’s hard to imagine that you would feel much joy or pride of ownership in your work if your contribution was reduced to your financial output. While this specific wording may be a bit exaggerated, it’s not a far departure from the message that many employees hear on a daily basis.
As we move into what (we hope) will be a growth period, it’s natural for leaders to emphasize the importance of hitting financial targets. Financial performance is crucial, of course. But making numbers the centerpiece of your leadership narrative is a costly mistake.
Financial results are an outcome, not a root driver for employee performance. A growing body of evidence tells us that overemphasizing financial targets erodes morale and undermines long-term strategy. When a leader spends the majority of their airtime on a “make the numbers” narrative, it creates a transactional relationship with their employees, making them more likely to create transactional relationships with their teammates and customers.
The events of 2020 remind us: Employee engagement is the lifeblood of an organization. What your team thinks, feels, and believes about your organization, and their own work, drives their behavior — and their behavior is what determines your success or failure.
Leaders seeking to ignite creativity and drive exponential effort must go upstream, using their time with their teams to build belief in the organizational purpose, the intrinsic value of the employees’ work, and the impact the teams have on customers, and each other. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Evaluate your leadership “airtime.”
When Mike Gianoni took over as the CEO of SaaS firm Blackbaud, he flipped the way they conduct town halls. Previous leaders spent the majority of their airtime sharing financial results. Gianoni took a different approach. He began using his time to discuss the impact Blackbaud was having on customers, and he directed his leaders to do the same.
“Shifting our airtime from internal metrics to customer outcomes jump-started the next level of customer empathy and value,” explains Blackbaud President and GM Patrick Hodges. “Over time, your attrition goes down. When people feel good about what they do and they’re more successful, they’re not going to look for another job.”
We recommend leaders aim for a 50/50 split, spending at least half their leadership airtime building belief in the meaning and external impact of the work, and half on internal metrics and deliverables. It’s not without coincidence that six months after Blackbaud adjusted their leadership airtime, they had an innovation breakthrough, employee engagement rose dramatically, market share increased, and revenue grew exponentially.
2. Discuss individual customers with emotion and specificity.
The more clearly an employee understands their direct impact, the more likely they are to go the extra mile; they also experience greater fulfillment in doing so.
Consider this research from organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who studied paid employees at a public university call center who were hired to solicit donations to the school from alumni. He divided the team into two groups. One group went about their day as usual, phoning potential donors. The other group, before jumping on the phones, had a short conversation with a scholarship student, someone who was able to get an education because of donations that the call center produced. After a month, callers who had spoken with the scholarship recipient spent more than two times as many minutes on the phone, and brought in vastly more money: a weekly average of $503.22, up from $185.94.
The same findings have been echoed in studies of lifeguards, hospital workers, and sales teams. When we know our work matters to an individual person, we rise to the occasion. Discussing customers in the aggregate does not create the same emotional pull. Instead, when you speak about customers, even if your team does not interact with them directly, use their real names, talk about the businesses they have, and show your team that real people are counting on them.
3. Resist the pull of the “FYI.”
In our consulting practice we routinely observe well-intended leaders who in an effort “to keep their team informed” pass along everything that pertains to financial performance. It’s natural, because the gravitational pull of most organizations leans towards the numbers; it’s what gets reported and thus it’s routinely forwarded down.
But when a leader send their team decks filled with financial targets employees are often left to their own devices to figure out how to translate broader financial goals into their daily behavior. It’s confusing at best, dispiriting at worst.
Emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman says, “A primary task of leadership is to direct attention. To do so, leaders must learn to focus their own attention.” Instead of routinely hitting forward on every financial report, think about where you want to direct the attention of your team.
You can decide what to share and what not to share by asking yourself questions like: What does my team need to be thinking about on a daily basis to accomplish these goals? How do I want them to behave with customers and each other? Filter out the noise coming from other places in the organization and focus your language on the two things that are 100% within the control of your team: their mindset and their behavior.
The research is telling us what we already knew in our hearts to be true: You cannot spreadsheet your way to passion. With ambitious goals on the horizon, it’s tempting to double-down on financial metrics. But hitting financial targets requires employees who are excited and care about their work.
As we face a future of potential uncertainty and unrest, it’s crucial for leaders to help their teams stay engaged. You can improve your team’s performance (and their emotional well-being) by making sure your airtime, your metrics, and your language communicate one simple message: Your work matters.
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Even companies with the best intentions can sometimes take a wrong turn when trying to do right by their employees. Damaging habits and behaviors can inadvertently get absorbed into company culture; and when this happens, it can send the wrong signal about a company’s priorities and values. One of the biggest challenges lies in finding the sweet spot between business needs and employee welfare and happiness. Naturally, you want a high-performing team; but not at the expense of employee well-being and mental health.
Here, we take a closer look at some common workplace conventions—and the ways that they might be inadvertently undermining your mental health objectives.
1. Having a “hustle” culture
It’s great to be productive, but over-emphasizing hard work and profitability can be a slippery slope to toxic productivity. It can lead to individuals attaching their feelings of self-worth to the amount of work they’re doing, and feeling like performance metrics are more important than their mental well-being.
Similarly, celebrating employees who stay late—or even lightly teasing those who start late and leave (or log-off) early (or on time)—can subtly contribute to a culture of overwork and performative busy-ness. Left unchecked, this can result in resentment and burnout among other employees who feel compelled to prove their own commitment to work .
A small fix:
Instead of celebrating regular overtime, try opening up communication about ways to include breaks and downtime throughout the day. You can support this with anecdotes about the healthy mental habits of people in the team (assuming they are open to sharing). For example: “Hey guys, Dave’s found a clever way to schedule regular breaks into his day around meetings!”
Also be sure to address long hours and overwork if you see a rising trend in the company, as it could be an indicator of unachievable work expectations.
2. Sending work emails or messages after hours
It happens to us all: maybe you only received a response on something late in the day, or you had an out-of-hours brainwave.
Sending the occasional evening or weekend message is fine, but doing it regularly implies that after-hours work is expected—which could pressure people into feeling they have to respond immediately.
The same goes for emails sent at the end of a working day with next-day deadlines (or, for example, Monday morning deadlines for work given out on Friday). These practices put a hefty burden on the recipient, which adds to stress and can contribute to burnout.
Now, it gets a bit harder to draw a line when you take into account the increasingly globalized world of work, which necessitates out-of-hours communications due to different time zones. But even in these cases, it helps to be explicit about expectations when sending messages, especially when you know the recipient is either about to log off or has signed off for the day.
A small fix:
If you need to send emails after hours or on weekends, be sure to add a note about how the email can be read or dealt with on the next working day. This takes pressure off the recipient and assures them that they won’t be penalized for not responding on the spot.
If you have a global team, it also helps to establish clear working hours for different countries, and to be clear about the fact that nobody is expected to read or respond to emails out of hours.
Also, no matter where in the world you or your recipient are, be sure to schedule enough time for them to deal with the task during their office hours! And remember—they may have other pre-existing work on their plate that might need to take precedence.
3. Only engaging in “shop-talk”
It’s easy to find things to talk about around the water cooler in the office. But take those organic run-ins out of the equation, and what you’re left with is often work chat and little else.
Working from home has made it harder to bond with colleagues. The natural tendency is to get work done and to only chat about the process, rarely (if ever) about other things.
This removes a big social aspect from work, which can take a significant mental toll on employees and affect their enjoyment of work. This is especially apparent for employees who don’t already have solid work friend groups, either because they’re new or because their friends have since left the company.
A small fix:
There’s so much more to people than just who they are at work. To get some non-work conversations going, design interactions that aren’t work related.
You could set up a monthly ‘coffee roulette’ to group random employees up for a chat. This can help to break the ice a bit and link up individuals who might not otherwise speak during work hours. Or you could arrange sharing sessions where people are encouraged to talk about their challenges and triumphs from life outside the workplace.
Another alternative is to set up interest groups in the company, to help like-minded employees find each other and bond over a shared interest in certain hobbies or things.
4. Only having group chats and check-ins
Big group check-ins and catch-up meetings are important. But group settings can pressure people to put a good spin on things, or cause them to feel like they’re being irrational or weak for struggling when everyone else seems to be doing well.
This could result in problems being missed and getting out of hand, which in turn can take a big toll on mental health and well-being.
A small fix:
Some people may not be willing to speak candidly to a large group, so be sure to set aside time for employees to speak one-to-one to a manager who can address any problems that may arise. It’s also important to make sure everyone understands that they won’t be penalized or looked down on for speaking up about any issues they may be having.
5. Not talking about mental wellness
Perhaps the biggest way your company might be undermining mental health is simply by… not talking about it.
Some managers may not feel equipped to have these conversations, or may not be sure about the etiquette or convention around holding these conversations. But by not broaching these topics at all, employees may feel like they can’t speak out about things they’re struggling with.
The result is a rose-tinted veneer that may be hiding deeper problems under the surface. And studies show there likely are problems. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 employed adults in the U.S. experienced a mental health issue back in the previous year, with 71% of adults reporting at least one symptom of stress. That number has likely shot up now.
A small fix:
Be candid about mental health and encourage people to share their burdens and struggles—especially leaders. You can help by actively promoting good habits like mindfulness and meditation, proper work-life balance, and reaching out for help when necessary.
By being more honest about struggles and mental wellness challenges, managers can reduce the stigma and create a more open culture where people feel able to admit they’re struggling.
As a company, it’s important to be careful about the ripple effects that even small actions—or, in some cases, inaction—may have on employees. The simple fact is that the signals you send may be reinforcing unhealthy habits.
That’s why it’s so important to be aware of deeper currents that run in your organization and to proactively address any harmful behaviors.
By staying aware and making a few small tweaks and behavioral changes, you can hit the reset button when necessary and encourage good habits that protect employee mental wellness.
For more tips on how to build a more inclusive workplace culture that supports your employees’ mental well-being and happiness, check out:
Is Mental Health important in the workplace? Tom explores all things related to workplace mental health, including mental health in school workplaces, in this insightful video. Tom helps employers figure out mental health at work. He reviews workplaces, trains managers and writes plans. Since 2012 he has interviewed more than 130 people, surveyed thousands and worked across the UK with corporations, civil service, charities, the public sector, schools and small business. Tom has worked with national mental health charities Mind and Time to Change and consults widely across the UK. He lives in Norfolk and is mildly obsessed with cricket and camping.
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People are tired. Between a global pandemic, economic crisis, social unrest, & political upheaval, the past year has been physically and emotionally draining for just about everyone, and perhaps most for essential workers.
Across industries, workers struggling with pandemic fatigue are facing burnout more than ever. For leaders, keeping these employees engaged and motivated is a challenge in itself. While some leaders are turning to incentives like gift cards and cash to help support employees, others are taking a softer approach, investing in relationships and focusing on workplace communication.
When the pandemic began, the hospitality industry fell off a cliff, says Liz Neumark, founder and CEO of Great Performances, a catering company in New York City. She knew keeping everyone employed would be difficult until her business could find another source of revenue apart from events, which eventually came in the form of preparing meals for essential workers and people unable to quarantine at home. While some of her employees, such as those in sales or event production, saw salary reductions, chefs, kitchen staff, and other employees making food for essential workers kept their full salaries and got help with transportation as well.
The founders of P. Terry’s, an Austin, Texas-based fast-food restaurant chain, give employees gift cards and cash to help pay for groceries and offer them interest-free loans. They also incentivize employees to participate in community and civic causes, including paying hourly wages for volunteer work.
Justin Spannuth, chief operating officer of Unique Snacks, a sixth-generation, family-operated hard pretzel maker in Reading, Pennsylvania, increased hourly wages by $2 for all 85 of his employees. The company also hired additional temporary employees to provide a backup workforce. Spannuth says the move helped persuade employees with possible symptoms to stay at home by easing the guilt that employees can have about not coming in and potentially increasing the workload on their colleagues.
“The last thing we wanted our employees to do was get worn out from working too many hours and then have their immune system compromised because of it,” says Spannuth.
Helping Employees Connect
Andrea Ahern, vice president of Mid Florida Material Handling, a material handling company in Orlando, Florida, says it was difficult to keep morale up when the business was clearly struggling; employees were uncertain about the company’s future, and their own. To help ease the stress, the company held a wide array of picnic-style meals in the company’s parking lot. It was a light distraction that still followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Now, she says, morale has started to rise.
“With the release of the vaccine and the so-called ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ we’re starting to see the industry get a lift in activity, and associates feel good when they know their jobs aren’t at risk. However, it wasn’t always this way.”
These kinds of events can, of course, also take place virtually. Company leaders across industries are encouraging staff to treat Zoom as a virtual water cooler. But while casual online gatherings after work can help colleagues maintain friendly relationships, they can also contribute to “Zoom fatigue”–the drained feeling that comes after a long day of video calls, which often require more concentration than in-person meetings.
Matt McCambridge, co-founder and CEO of Eden Health, a primary/collaborative care practice based in New York, says while his teams hold regular virtual water coolers, they switch it up. For example, the company hosted an interactive “dueling pianos” virtual event over the holidays, as well as a magic show.
Better Communication From the Top
Communicating support work-life balance at a time when many people are remote and facing trauma is critical. Neumark notes that when her catering company was pivoting and in the process of providing hundreds, if not thousands, of meals, the team was relying mostly on sheer adrenaline. Months later, now that the novelty is gone and fatigue has fully set in, the boundaries she set are crucial.
One rule, for example, is weekends off, unless there’s an urgent, unavoidable request. “The weeks are still so intense, and people need their private time right now,” says Neumark.
It’s essential that leaders understand the issues their employees may be facing and not try to gloss over them, says Dr. Benjamin F. Miller, a psychologist and chief strategy officer of Well Being Trust, a foundation aimed at advancing mental and social health. “When your boss is pretending that everything is OK, it doesn’t create a conducive work environment for someone to talk about having a bad day,” says Miller. That’s one reason virtual water coolers often fail, he notes. While they’re great at getting people together, there’s little benefit if people can’t speak openly and honestly.
It’s also OK to tell employees that you, as a leader, are not having an easy time. Showing vulnerability doesn’t show weakness, Miller adds. You’re setting an example that shows that it’s OK to be honest and acknowledge that not everyone is not having the best time. If you aren’t aware that someone is in a crisis, he says, you may lose the opportunity to reach out to that person and help.
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The world of work has been changing for some time, with an end to the idea of jobs for life and the onset of the gig economy. But just as in every other field where digital transformation is ongoing, the events of 2020 have accelerated the pace of this change dramatically.
The International Labor Organization has estimated that almost 300 million jobs are at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of those that are lost, almost 40% will not come back. According to research by the University of Chicago, they will be replaced by automation to get work done more safely and efficiently.
Particularly at risk are so-called “frontline” jobs – customer service, cashiers, retail assistant, and public transport being just a few examples. But no occupation or profession is entirely future proof. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), even tasks previously reserved for highly trained doctors and lawyers – diagnosing illness from medical images, or reviewing legal case history, for example – can now be carried out by machines.
At the same time, the World Economic Forum, in its 2020 Future of Jobs report, finds that 94% of companies in the UK will accelerate the digitization of their operations as a result of the pandemic, and 91% are saying they will provide more flexibility around home or remote working.
If you’re in education or training now, this creates a dilemma. Forget the old-fashioned concept of a “job for life,” which we all know is dead – but will the skills you’re learning now even still be relevant by the time you graduate?
All of this has created a perfect environment for online learning to boom. Rather than moving to a new city and dedicating several years to studying for a degree, it’s becoming increasingly common to simply log in from home and fit education around existing work and family responsibilities.
This fits with the vision of Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of online learning platform Coursera. Coursera was launched in 2012 by a group of Stanford professors interested in using the internet to widen access to world-class educational content. Today, 76 million learners have taken 4,500 different courses from 150 universities, and the company is at the forefront of the wave of transformation spreading through education.
“The point I focus on,” he told me during our recent conversation, “is that the people who have the jobs that are going to be automated do not currently have the skills to get the new jobs that are going to be created.”
Without intervention, this could lead to an “everyone loses” scenario, where high levels of unemployment coincide with large numbers of vacancies going unfilled because businesses can’t find people with the necessary skills.
The answer here is a rethink of education from the ground up, Maggioncalda says, and it’s an opinion that is widely shared. Another WEF statistic tells us 66% of employers say they are accelerating programs for upskilling employees to work with new technology and data.Models of education will change, too, as the needs of industry change. Coursera is preparing for this by creating new classes of qualification such as its Entry-Level Professional Certificates. Often provided directly by big employers, including Google and Facebook, these impart a grounding in the fundamentals needed to take on an entry-level position in a technical career, with the expectation that the student would go on to continue their education to degree level while working, through online courses, or accelerated on-campus semesters.
“The future of education is going to be much more flexible, modular, and online. Because people will not quit their job to go back to campus for two or three years to get a degree, they can’t afford to be out of the workplace that long and move their families. There’s going to be much more flexible, bite-sized modular certificate programs that add up to degrees, and it’s something people will experience over the course of their working careers,” says Maggioncalda.
All of this ties nicely with the growing requirements that industry has for workers that are able to continuously reskill and upskill to keep pace with technological change. It could lead to an end of the traditional model where our status as students expires as we pass into adulthood and employment.
Rather than simply graduating and waving goodbye to their colleges as they throw their mortarboards skywards, students could end up with life-long relationships with their preferred providers of education, paying a subscription to remain enrolled and able to continue their learning indefinitely.
“Because why wouldn’t the university want to be your lifelong learning partner?” Maggioncalda says.
“As the world changes, you have a community that you’re familiar with, and you can continue to go back and learn – and your degree is kind of never really done – you’re getting micro-credentials and rounding out your portfolio. This creates a great opportunity for higher education.”
Personally, I feel that this all points to an exciting future where barriers to education are broken down, and people are no longer blocked from studying by the fact they also need to hold down a job, or simply because they can’t afford to move away to start a university course.
With remote working increasingly common, factors such as where we happen to grow up, or where we want to settle and raise families, will no longer limit our aspirations for careers and education. This could lead to a “democratization of education,” with lower costs to the learner as employers willingly pick up the tab for those who show they can continually improve their skillsets.
As the world changes, education changes too. Austere school rooms and ivory-tower academia are relics of the last century. While formal qualifications and degrees aren’t likely to vanish any time soon, the way they are delivered in ten years’ time is likely to be vastly different than today, and ideas such as modular, lifelong learning, and entry-level certificates are a good indication of the direction things are heading.
You can watch my conversation with Jeff Maggioncalda in full, where among other topics, we also cover the impact of Covid-19 on building corporate cultures and the implications of the increasingly globalized, remote workforce. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.
Bernard Marr is an internationally best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist, and a strategic business & technology advisor to governments and companies. He helps organisations improve their business performance, use data more intelligently, and understand the implications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains, and the Internet of Things. Why don’t you connect with Bernard on Twitter (@bernardmarr), LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernardmarr) or instagram (bernard.marr)?
Have you ever noticed that you eat less junk during the weeks when you hit your target of working out four times? And when you are eating better, you pause before ordering that next drink? And then as you’re working out a bit more, eating better, and drinking less, you get to bed a bit earlier and wake up more readily?
This is the upward spiral of good habits. The same effect can be observed for work habits, financial practices, or any other element of our lives. And it also happens in organizations. Let’s consider the example of Ellevate, a community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed, and a certified B Corp.
First, a word on B Corps: these are for-profit companies that have been certified (and re-certified every three years) by the not-for-profit organization B Lab, which created the B Corp certification. B Lab’s B Impact Assessment (BIA), on which the certification is based, is a rigorous set of standards for how a company operates, with about 200 indicators in five areas (customers, community, workers, environment, and governance).
Companies must earn at least 80 points on these questions, which range from the training and benefits they offer employees to ratio of the lowest and highest salaries, ethics policies and procedures, and whether you’re working with the landlord to improve your facility’s environmental performance.
Ellevate was established as a strongly mission-driven for-profit company in 1997, by women who worked at Goldman Sachs and called the group 85 Broads, in reference to their employer’s corporate address. As other women expressed an interest in the peer support offered by the group, it expanded to include others beyond the GS network. In 2013, Sallie Krawcheck acquired the company and rebranded as Ellevate to capitalize on the business opportunity of helping women advance in leadership, which has been shown to have great economic benefit to employers and the communities around them.
The mission of Ellevate, then, has been the same for over 20 years. It may have become more newsworthy in today’s #MeToo era, but it’s no more or less important now than then. What has changed is the way that Ellevate executes on that mission. The group certified as a B Corp in 2016, earning a score of 88 on the 200-point BIA.
Perhaps Ellevate’s identity as a mission-driven company made this transition to B Corp more likely, but many of the other 3,000 certified B Corps are very standard businesses, selling cleaning products, ice cream, branding advice, or even electricity. Whether or not a company’s ‘what’ is inherently good for the world, in an increasingly transparent world, Ellevate isn’t the only company thinking more about not just what they do, but how they do it.
And this is where B Corp certification comes in, as Samantha Giannangeli, Ellevate’s Operations Lead, said: “It’s worth it for the introspective take on your business – not just what you hope to achieve, but how.“
Regardless of what they sell, all companies have myriad opportunities to create less harm and ultimately generate benefit to the people and planet around them. The BIA offers 200 very specific such opportunities, such as including social and environmental performance in job descriptions and performance reviews; managing customer data privacy; and sharing resources about best environmental practices for virtual employees. CEOs are generally assigned the most direct responsibility – and credit – for how a company operates. Indeed, Giannangeli said that Wallace, “is a driving force behind our work with B Corp. She leads by example every day, and we’re lucky to work with her.”
But the upward spiral that you’ve felt during those healthy eating weeks kicks in quickly once a CEO states or signals that they support operating the business in a way that’s good for the world. After all, CEOs do very little of any company’s day-to-day operations. Decisions about fair hiring practices, good environmental practices, and customer support and protection are made by middle management and executed (or not) by frontline employees.
Giannangeli described how Wallace’s commitment to improving Ellevate’s operating principles engages and reflects employees, saying that Wallace “listens to us, and takes the time to understand the challenges we bring to the workforce – and the challenges we want to solve.”
The vast majority of us want to make a positive contribution to the world through our work, whether by improving a single person’s day or making a system more equitable. So getting permission from leadership and learning best practices for doing business that’s good for the world (from the BIA for example) is enough to activate a team to improve the pieces of a company’s operations that they’re responsible for.
Ellevate’s team “drastically increased our energy efficiency, launched a series of trainings on cultural awareness and anti-discrimination and harassment, and developed an internship program focused on first generation college students.” These initiatives have nothing to do with the company’s core business of supporting women at work – they would fit equally well in a cleaning products or ice cream company.
As a result of these efforts, Ellevate’s BIA score rose from 88 to 115 when they were re-certified in 2019. They became a Best for the World honoree, indicating that their score in the Workers category falls in the top 10% of all B Corps. Giannangeli pointed out that the practices that earned this recognition “were employee-driven, and employee-led.”
What’s more, during recent testimony to the House Committee on Small Business, Ellevate CEO Kristy Wallace said: “I’d also like to note that our business revenues doubled during that time period illustrating that being good for society is also good for business.” This understanding that doing well by doing good is not only possible for businesses to attain, but increasingly a mandate from customers, investor, and employees. And there’s nothing like revenue growth to drive an upward spiral of being good for society.
So regardless of your position, industry, and function, check out the BIA. Find one or two indicators that you or your team participate in or influence. And think about what small step you could take to improve your company’s performance on that one small factor. You could stop buying individually packaged snacks in favor of bulk purchases that go into reusable containers to reduce your waste.
Or institute a team-wide afternoon stretch break to improve employee well-being. Or start a Slack channel for online articles, podcasts, videos, and courses to offer low-cost, self-scheduling professional development that helps colleagues stay on the cutting edge of your industry.
These are all small and very low-cost initiatives, but they’re much more likely to get your colleagues and leadership thinking about other ways your company could be better for the people and planet around you than doing nothing. And these and similar small actions can also be taken in your home, informal communities, or even just your personal habits, like the gym and healthy eating we started with. So what will you do in 2020 to kickstart an upward spiral?
** Please Like the Video and Subscribe, Thanks ** We’re just going to talk about what is employee engagement, what is the definition of employee engagement? Let’s start with what it’s not. See, a lot of people think employee engagement is the same as employee satisfaction, but satisfaction doesn’t raise the bar high enough. See, I can be satisfied as I clock into work at nine and satisfied as I take my breaks and lunch and clock out at five o’clock. I’m satisfied and I do what is asked of me. More importantly, I’m satisfied but I’ll take that executive recruiter phone call that says, “Kevin, are you interested in that job opening from the competitor across the street?” “Ah, I’m pretty satisfied here, actually.” “I can get you a ten percent raise.” “Oh, well, okay, I’ll take that job interview.” Satisfaction just doesn’t set the bar high enough. Others will say, oh, what it’s really about is happiness. We’re trying to create happy workers, a happy workplace. I’m not against happiness. I hope everybody is happy, but just because you’re happy doesn’t mean you’re working on behalf of the organization. I’ve got two teenage daughters who I had to take to the mall to go clothes shopping recently, every parent’s worst nightmare. We went into one of these trendy teen clothing stores with the cool-looking young people working everywhere and the music blasting through the speakers. I noticed, we walked in, the workers seemed pretty happy, looking down at their smartphones, but nobody greeted me as we came in the door. They were laughing at one point in the corner, all talking with each other. Not once did they come over and ask me if we were finding everything we needed. When we were checking out, the young woman behind the cash register, she was happily bopping her head to the beats blasting through the speakers, but she didn’t try to up-sell me. She didn’t offer me the company credit card. The workers there, I really noticed it right away. They sure seemed happy at work. They seemed like they were having a fun, good time, but they weren’t necessarily doing the behaviors or performing the way their company leadership probably wanted them to. If engagement isn’t satisfaction and it isn’t happy, what is it? Basically, employee engagement is the emotional commitment that we have to our organization and the organization’s goals. When we’re engaged, when we’re emotionally committed, it means we’re going to give discretionary effort. We’re going to go the extra mile. That’s the secret sauce. That’s why engagement is so important and so powerful. When we are engaged, we give discretionary effort. That means if you have an engaged salesperson, she’s going to sell just as hard on a Friday afternoon as she does on a Monday afternoon. If you have an engaged customer service professional, he’s going to be just as patient with that irate customer at 4:59 at the end of the shift as he would be at 9:30 in the morning. If you have engaged factory workers, they’re productivity is going to be higher, the quality is going to be higher, fewer defects and mistakes, and most importantly, they’re going to get hurt less often. Your safety record is going to improve as people are more mindful and aware. Discretionary effort leads to better business results no matter what your job role or responsibility in an organization. Now this is a shame, because the C-level executives, they would care more about engagement if they understood the differences. What they care about, the C-level executives, they really care about investor returns. They care about their stock price. Employee engagement is the lever that can move that needle. I call it the engagement profit chain. Engaged employees give discretionary effort. They’re going to sell harder. The service is going to be better. Productivity is going to be higher. That means customers are going to be happier. The more satisfied your customers are, the more they’re going to buy and the more they’re going to refer you. As sales go up, as profits go up, inevitably your stock price is going to go up Shareholder returns are going to go up. Employee engagement, so-called soft stuff leads to a hard ROI. Several years ago, the Kenexa Research Institute did a study and they found that companies with engaged employees, their stock price was five times higher than companies with disengaged employees, over a five-year time period. I hope that you will help me to spread the gospel of engagement, and it starts with making sure that everybody is on the same page with what engagement really is. I invite you to just forward this video to friends and colleagues, get us all on the same page. -~-~~-~~~-~~-~- Most Recent Video: “How To Talk ANYONE Into ANYTHING | Negotiation Tips From Former FBI Negotiator Chris Voss ” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jqj3…