The Importance of Connecting Employees to a Clear Corporate Mission
A recent study by Spherion, “The 2013 Emerging Workforce” examines the 2013 workforce and the post-recession resurgence of the “emergent worker mentality” characterized by the study as one which focuses on a free-agency style employment. While the study provides data to support this point it is more than likely we have experienced the validity of this resurgence in our daily lives, perhaps witnessing friends or colleagues job-hopping more frequently, or seeing an increased social conscience in employees and new talent. Whether we’ve confirmed suspicions that our current workforce is driven by a very different set of factors than previous generations or not, insights from this report can help to remind us of the importance of understanding this emergent worker mentality.
Data supports that connecting employees to an organizations values and greater corporate mission is one of the most influential attributes of job satisfaction for the emergent worker. 70% of respondents from Spherion’s study who worked for a company with “a clear mission and follow through” reported that their level of job satisfaction was very/extremely good , compared to a job satisfaction rate of just 23% for organizations with no clear mission and follow through. As Jake Magleby stated in a blog published by Great Place to Work last month: “Businesses with vision are often more successful than their competitors. This is because people like to support a specific cause or purpose. Business leaders who recognize this can develop a vision for their company that is based on common values and shared goals… This vision for a better world is something that most people not only relate to, but very much want to support. This support translates into a healthy bottom line for the company and a healthier community”.
Data from Spherion’s 2013 Emerging Workforce Study not only confirms that employees at companies with a clear mission are more satisfied with their jobs but are also that they are more likely to stay at their jobs. 70% of respondents at a company with a clear mission and follow through reported that the likelihood they would stay at their current job for the next five years was excellent/very good, and only 21% responded that they were at least somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Additionally, respondents from companies with a clear mission and follow through felt more confident in their growth potential than employees from organizations without a clear mission and follow through. Given these returns, all organizations should consider making their mission and values even more visible and relatable for employees and this has been a top priority for me in my new role at Great Place to Work. Does your company place a premium on mission and values? What actions do you take to connect employees to your mission?
There’s been a lot of talk recently regarding flexible scheduling policies in organizations. All kinds of people have been writing about whether such policies are actually beneficial or harmful for businesses, as well as questioning if flexible scheduling polices are really essential or non-essential to things like employee engagement, well-being, and productivity. Actually, I think these discussions miss the point and I don’t think any of these questions can be answered on such a broad scale. The potential for flexible scheduling policies to help or hinder an organization is dependent on a whole series of variables, making such questions decidedly organization specific and not answerable as a larger theme that applies to all organizations. What we can confirm about flexible scheduling policies however, is that they are a highly regarded benefit and broadly implemented by some organizations. The graph below from Statista, detailing data from a 2013 Employee Benefits Report by SHRM, found that in the U.S in 2013, 58% of employers offered the option of telecommuting to some of their employees and 4% planned on starting to offer telecommuting within the next year. This data gives us a rough idea of the implementation of flexible scheduling policies within the U.S, and with more than half of employers offering telecommuting options it’s obvious that this is an approach worth discussing.
We can clearly point to Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo! (see my post here) as one of the major sparks in the recent discussions around flexible scheduling. Adding to the controversy is legislation that has passed in Vermont and now San Francisco, requiring certain organizations to seriously consider employee’s requests for a flexible work schedule. The most recent legislation around flexible scheduling passed just last month on October 8th 2013 in San Francisco. The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) will become operative on January 1st 2014, and mandates that employers with twenty or more staff give employees in caregiver roles the right to request a predictable or flexible work schedule. To qualify an employee must have worked for the organization for more than six months, work at least eight hours a week on a regular basis, and be a caregiver for a child or children under the age of 18, a parent(s) over the age of 65, or a person(s) with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the employee. If an employee meets these standards they have the right to submit a request for a flexible schedule and their employer is required to meet with them within 21 days. The employer is required to respond to the request within 21 days of their meeting and if the employer denies a request they must explain the denial in a written response that sets out a bona fide business reason for the denial and provides the employee with notice of the right to request reconsideration.
Legislation like this raises a whole new set of questions around flexible scheduling policies. The San Francisco ordinance is positive in that it helps to protect employees against discrimination based on their caregiver status, however, at the same time, could you argue that legislation like this goes too far? Does it restrict an organization’s right to organize their business in the way they see fit, and most conducive to achieving goals? The FFWO could be positive in prompting employees that desire flexible scheduling policies to speak out – employees that may have previously felt afraid to voice such requests do to the bureaucracy of their organizations. But what will the effects be on organizations that have never implemented flexible scheduling policies? Will the ordinance cause a roadblock and additional internal conflict? These are some of the top questions that come to mind as I consider the implications of flexible scheduling legislation. What do you think?
I came across this article from Pacific Standard Magazine the other day and thought it was discussion worthy – certainly a little controversial. And completely at odds with the principles of creating great workplaces from the Great Place to Work Institute. The article discusses a recent study from South Korea published in The Leadership Quarterly, which concludes that a moderate amount of abusive supervision in the workplace prompts employees to be more creative than they would be in an environment with either extremely high or extremely low levels of abusive supervision. The study consisted of a survey taken by employees and supervisors of “a large government-affiliated institute” in which employees rated their supervisor’s level of abusiveness and supervisors evaluated their employee’s level of creativity. The result was a curvilinear relationship between abusive supervision and creativity.
As author Tom Jacob’s points out in the article for Pacific Standard, we could simply take these findings as a critique of East Asian Culture and dismiss them. Since our culture is so different from that of East Asia, what’s the value of this controversial study to us? If we look deeper than the questionable ethics though, I believe there’s some interesting insight into human nature here. We all know the annoying and over-used adage, you’ve got to “think outside the box” to inspire innovation, but I must say that I think actually incorporating the results of this study would be taking it a little too far. Actually, it would be taking it a lot too far. Working to find creative ways to inspire innovation from our employees is growing in importance, but to use this data to “okay” an abusive environment at work, even to okay a moderately abusive manager (which is the type of supervision the study links to the highest levels of employee creativity) wouldn’t just be crossing a best practice line, it would be crossing a moral line.
Besides providing more organizational research on the potentially dark side of leadership, the study reminds us of several core characteristics of human nature that, while basic, are extremely important to our ability to be successful and creative at work, and in our lives. Firstly, stress: the study reminds us that in moderate levels stress is healthy, and even necessary, for us to achieve our goals and prompt us to make new ones. It’s when stress exceeds our ability to cope (like when employees experienced high levels of abusive supervision) or is entirely absent (when employees experienced no abusive supervision) that we become overwhelmed or underwhelmed, unmotivated, and are unable to do our jobs effectively.
The second element of human nature that the study highlights is the importance of accountability. The data remind us that when we have forces holding us accountable (stress in this case) we are more likely to be creative. Employees in this study were held accountable by stress brought on from moderately abusive supervision, and were motivated by a desire to eliminate the tension causing the stress. Though, let’s be clear here! There are tons of different ways we can hold ourselves accountable and stress is by no means the only way.
Ultimately, I think we all experience enough stress without adding an abusive supervisor to the mix, so don’t leave here inspired to go stress out your employees in an effort to up the ante on their creativity! Just keep in mind that, like it or not, we all do need a wee bit of stress and accountability in our lives. They may seem negative at times, but we can celebrate by knowing that they could just be the necessary ingredient to that next big idea!
Everyone wants to work at a great place, and today, they’ll find out if they do. Great Place to Work® is counting down the 2013 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list during a live, online broadcast today for the first time ever. Join me in congratulating the 2013 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces and follow us at 9AM Pacific Time in the GoLive event when we’ll stream live the reveal of the third annual list of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces.
Several executives from the top 25 companies will join us on set to share their approaches and successfull practices that help them build, sustain and grow the world’s most coveted workplace cultures. These organizations have thousands of people in different countries working across multiple time zones, and yet, their universal commitment to every employee makes them great beyond any border.
It’s no coincidence that great workplaces are also industry leaders across the board. Client satisfaction, ROI and quarterly earnings all start with the people who make it happen. Year after year, companies that see each employee as a whole person ultimately see the most valuable business results. These companies offer internal programs for personal well-being, provide professional development opportunities, and foster transparent communities for the best talent to connect, learn and succeed together.
We are honored to celebrate these companies and their dedication to sustaining healthy work environments for their employees. They help us achieve our mission of creating a better society by having a positive impact on their people and the communities within which they work.
Join us at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time today, Tuesday, October 22, to find out who made the 2013 list and hear from the best what it takes to become a Great Place to Work®. http://worldsbest.greatplacetowork.net/index.html