You’ve probably heard the phrase “employees are your company’s greatest asset” so many times it’s become cliché. But we know it to be true because without great employees, it’s impossible to create great products and services that delight customers and result in sales.
Research shows that companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged workforces. In the past, companies tried to engage employees by creating programs or perks to increase their satisfaction on the job. Yet, Gallup reports increasing levels of disengagement in spite of those activities.
I agree with Cy Wakeman who says that it’s an impossible task and unfair to ask managers to make employees “happy” at work. Happiness comes from within. And happiness is not an accurate gauge of engagement.
Former Xerox CEO Anne M. Mulcahy put it this way: “Employees are a company’s greatest asset — they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”
I know from experience that including employees in the company’s mission is the most effective way to build a great team. So how do we as leaders show employees the love and enable them to be our businesses’ greatest asset? Here’s how we did it at my company:
Build a sustainable intranet. In our practice, we have found that when a company reaches about 100 employees, informal approaches to organizational communications no longer work. Likewise, keeping a virtual team connected offers the same challenge. At Vitiello Communications Group (VTLO), we built and run a sustainable intranet. It allows our remote workforce throughout the United States to learn about our mission, vision and values, contribute best practices, and collaborate online. It is also a convenient virtual meeting place for our team to share stories about events going on in their lives, give kudos to each other for great work, and even swap recipes. This year, we won an Award of Excellence from IABC’s Heritage Region for our intranet. Previously, we’ve earned awards and recognition for the SharePoint-based intranets we’ve built for our clients. Communicating is easy with an intranet that everybody enjoys using.
Develop a mentorship program. We believe in equipping people for success. Our new hires go through a comprehensive 90-day onboarding process. Our guidelines and tools help them become productive from day one. While we have always provided on-the-job training, we knew we needed to do more to operationalize our way of working. This year, we introduced a formal mentorship program. Now team members can request a mentor to guide them through a learning curve, teach them a new skill or provide feedback and coaching. Both mentor and mentee agree to a defined time period and goal. At the end of the cycle they have the opportunity to report their learnings to the entire team and to document new processes they develop together, contributing to the company’s mission.
Promote a culture of innovation and learning. Our company values are Growth, Respect, Integrity and Teamwork – GRIT for short. The first tenet of our Growth value is: “We learn rapidly and eagerly.” To put that principle into practice our Director of Innovation and Learning introduced some new tools to the company. She created a data collection instrument that makes it easy for us to capture learning when we attend conferences and workshops and bring that knowledge back to our team. In addition, she launched VTLO Reads, our new book club. This year, participants selected and read three books, taking turns leading live discussions on our Team site. We documented our learnings and shared them with the entire company on our intranet. Next year, VTLO Reads will add podcasts, Ted Talks and other videos to ensure all team members’ learning preferences are included. Another innovation we introduced as part of our company-wide digital transformation is a state-of-the-art time tracking and financial system to enable the entire team to manage workflow and projects collaboratively.
At VTLO, we know our team members are our most important asset – and our clients agree. Our people are actively engaged in helping us deliver on our mission: To be a customer-centric, results-oriented organization that brings a positive, can-do attitude to achieve excellence in all we do.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing to empower your greatest asset.
For information about our programs to enhance your employees’ experience, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 732-238-6622.