Every company wants their workers to be engaged, inspired, and working towards a common goal. But not every company has a plan for making that happen. An engaged and inspired workforce inspires people to work for your company, do business with your employees, and buy your products. How does an organization set themselves apart as a place where people want to work and that people want to work with?
All organizations need a reason they do business, a reason this company is special, and a common goal for everyone to work towards. In the book The Zappos Experience Five Principles to Inspire, Engage, and Wow Joseph Mitchell talks about the Zappos mission and culture. Zappos wants to “Deliver Happiness” and they make sure that every new hire understands Zappos’ core values and is a fit for their unique culture (32). For an engaged and inspired workforce, your people need to have a mission to engage and inspire them. At Zappos they want to serve customers. At another organization, the mission will be different, but every organization needs a “why” that is communicated clearly and often to its employees, customers, and the marketplace. A simple monetary or production goal is important, but today’s workforce requires more than money to perform at their best every day. A company that does not know how they serve the marketplace needs to figure out its “why” or they do not have a compelling story for either their customers or their employees.
Once an organization has a “why,” it needs to look for people that believe in the mission and will work towards fulfilling those goals. Hiring someone who just has the necessary computer or service industry skills needed, but does not believe in the organization’s stated goals can lead to some long term challenges. That hire may be a satisfactory employee as far as getting their job done, but what will it take to get them to go above and beyond in their job? Looking for employees that share a passion for your organization’s mission, and then taking the time to develop possible skills gaps and required capabilities can be a better long term solution for many organizations. When employees are all working together towards a shared vision, they work harder, longer, and better than simply working for a paycheck and waiting for the weekend.
Once you have a mission and some great hires, how do you keep your workforce engaged and motivated? Onboarding is a critical piece of the engagement process. Every time someone joins your organization, make sure they have the tools and skills needed to do their job. No matter if you are hiring a waitress or a software engineer, if you neglect to provide training that is specific to your organization you will not only frustrate the new employee, but their co-workers and support roles. Make sure your onboarding process is comprehensive and gives your people the tools they need to succeed in their jobs.
Once people are on board, then you need to figure out how to further engage and develop your employees. Is it more training in a specific area? Is it encouraging them to mentor new employees? Every organization needs to discover ways to keep its people challenged and developing towards goals that are important to them individually. Feedback can be a key component in ongoing development, as well as an appropriate way to provide employees with a clear understanding of their current performance. Once performance is assessed, an honest discussion about development opportunities and successes creates a transparent and positive work environment.
Finally, never forget the value of simple recognition that is tied to that company vision. This can be as simple as a manager telling an employee they’re doing a fantastic job, recognizing people who go above and beyond during a staff meeting, giving someone a special t-shirt, or a monetary reward for reaching a particular goal. Never underestimate the power of a $25 gift certificate!
Engaging and inspiring a workforce goes beyond simple talent and learning processes, and starts at the heart of the matter – your company’s goals. Supporting that goal and vision should become the driving force behind your efforts as a learning and talent professional. If an organization has a mission that engages and inspires the right employees it can transform the company culture and those effects will reverberate through how the company does business and deals with clients. For further research on this topic please refer to Brandon Hall Group’s White Paper on Engaging and Inspiring a Workforce.