Tag: Sustainability

Employee Engagement is a two-sided coin

In an increasingly technology dependent world, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that people (employees) are often the first point of contact your customers or services users have with your organization. When they are motivated and equipped to do the job, employees can be valuable ambassadors for your brand, but, at the same time, if their needs are ignored, they can become despondent and unmotivated, not performing at their best and having a potentially damaging impact; both of these outcomes have a critical effect on your organization’s image, and overall performance (including financial performance).

When you are able to establish a sense of shared values, engaged employees become the best asset you have for representing your organization and what it stands for to others and, in turn, this will create sustained performance over time.

The flipside of employee engagement

When done well, employee engagement will become a powerful tool. But when it is not managed well, it can cause serious challenges with an employee’s ability to cope and manage their workload and stressors. Burnout occurs when people reach a point of consistent mental or physical exhaustion; most commonly brought on by periods of prolonged stress.

How you implement your employee engagement strategy will play a key role for employees in determining the health of the relationship they have with the work they do. Engagement and motivation are achieved through connecting to an employee’s sense of worth and purpose. But this is a starting point rather than a silver bullet. Constant care and attention are needed in understanding the demands of day-to-day work and how different people respond in different ways. Stress associated with achieving results can have a positive impact on one person and the opposite on another. Managing the differences at a human level might be the single most important aspect of employee engagement and leadership.

Motivational balance

Having employees driven by purpose, aligned with your organization’s values will add consistent and positive value to your business. But purpose driven work can also create huge pressure where employees might not be able to switch off from their work, creating potentially destructive stress cycles. By way of example, consider some people who work in the health care sector. They are highly committed to providing the best level of care and service possible but sometimes this is at a cost to their personal wellbeing.

It is an employer’s responsibility to keep track of their employees’ wellbeing, to ensure that their engagement doesn’t come at the cost of their health. And sometimes employers might be tempted to take advantage of high levels of commitment. Do you know people who have worked when they are sick, not taken holiday they are entitled too, or worked on their days off? These examples should not be taken as examples of employee engagement because they are instead examples of abuse of employee engagement.

Sustainable practice

Correctly motivating and engaging employees is a complex process. In a world where stress can feel like a normal state of being, the sense of burnout that can occur from being in a constant state of anxiety, will more often than not have a negative impact.

The best employee engagement practices are those that focus on sustained commitment and performance over the long term rather than short term performance and financial results.

Responsible engagement

Responsible engagement begins with the employer correctly identifying the values and purpose of the organization, before communicating that to the employees. But it is not enough to tell the employees what they should value. It needs to be lived in the way everybody in the organization behaves when things are going well, and especially when things aren’t going well.

The key point is that motivation and engagement are not necessarily wholly positive elements in themselves. They need to be correctly managed and understood, so that employees have the time to give their best, to learn, grow and develop, and to feel a sense of fulfilment.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, our mission is to help organizations create effective employee engagement strategies, that don’t place profit over people. That help you find the natural grooves in your values and purpose to create excellent customer experiences for your customers and service users, while teaching your employees how to recognise their worth personally and as part of a larger organization.

Learning in the Values Economy

The world is changed, and the way we live and work is changing with it. The time when a fixed set of skills could guarantee consistent employment is almost over. The new skills currency is in our ability to learn and adapt to a constantly shifting and an ever-evolving working environment.

When things can change at a moments notice, those people that are the most adaptive and actively engaged learners are most likely to not only retain their employment but thrive in the kind of environment that puts positive pressure on their abilities and challenges their growth.

But this is not just limited to technical or specialist knowledge, how well a person can understand a company’s values and purpose, and then align with them, while maintaining their own fresh and unique perspective, will also serve as a determining factor for how well they fit in at that organisation.

Learning to learn

Career patterns are diversifying rapidly, as long-term positions are replaced by automation or refusal to pay a living wage. As a result our career paths take a much more winding route to financial security.

Resultant of these rapid changes, people are having to adapt, become more fluid and learn to quickly develop themselves in any direction needed to ensure their security and stability in the workplace.

But again, this is not just about our ability to take in facts, learn functional skills or change to suit any organisation that will hire us. It is about recognising our own inherent abilities and values, so that we may more quickly match ourselves in the direction of growth we naturally seek.

The majority of us have worked a job at some point in our life that we did not like. Outwardly, often no one could tell, but it didn’t leave us feeling valued or fulfilled. When learning to learn, it is important to place your values at the heart of the conversation with yourself, if you don’t, you’ll instead have to stay in a position that forces you to put your own development and growth on the back burner, it is likely your career will stagnant, and you’ll become stuck in that job, or on that economic pathway.

Finding Values role models

Cognitive diversity is important in any organisation, it is what keeps the business fresh and up to date with the culture of the society it rests in. If we want to improve our ability to work with others, we need to look at what the people who share our values or sense of purpose are doing and see what we like and what we feel we could innovate on. It is these collective collaborations that serve to solve any problem facing the organisation, as employees are no longer set to one task, but are challenged to contribute to all aspects of the business, its mission and purpose.

If you are an employee, seek out the people you perceive as successful, and don’t ask them to draw you a map of what they did to get there, but ask them what values they embody and identify with. This will give you a much better blueprint for individual success.

If you are an employer, understand your values and purpose, but create a diverse team of learners that can offer new ideas and perspectives on that purpose. If you don’t champion cognitive diversity, you are preparing yourself to run around in circles always wondering why you organisation isn’t performing at its best and having no one brave enough to tell you the truth.

Challenging purpose

Innovation comes at the boundary of stress and struggle, the more we are pressed, the greater our reaction to alleviate that stress, or find ways of doing things that create less of a struggle. When approaching the values economy, it can be easy to think of alignment as agreement, but this is not always the case.

There is a big difference between disagreement and refinement of values. Employees should serve as whet stones with which to hone and sharpen the quality of the organisation, not destroying existing purpose and values, but challenging them to ensure that they are truly lived, and not just words that pay lip service to a marketing campaign.

When you are able to find people who are active learners, capable of challenging the status quo in healthy and productive ways, it can only have a positive result on organisational identity, longevity and profitably.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND we can help you identify and implement strategies to find people that have an infinite capacity for learning, people who already have a passion for service and authentic values driven behaviour. Moderated by their own sense of purpose and values that will contribute positively to your organisation in a learn it all way, rather than stagnating with a know-it-all mentality.

Building Better Employee Engagement

A recent Mckinsey report highlights why it has never been more important to know how to positively engage employees. When done successfully, enormous previously untapped connection and potential can be uncovered, which leads to greater efficiency, increased motivation and output, alignment and integration across the entire workforce and far better customer satisfaction at the point of use or sale.

The internet and blogosphere is filled to the brim with lists and articles on improving employee engagement or removing the barriers that prevent good engagement in the first place. These are important because of how much of an impact engaged employees have on productivity, profitability, and retention figures.

Missed opportunities

The most critical of opportunities are sometimes missed because organizations fail to take engagement seriously, often having no desire to enhance the employee experience above government mandated baselines.

Employee engagement comes from the employee’s entire experience within the organization, lip services campaigns, a voucher or party once a year, or a prayer room that gets used as a stock room too, do not make for happy and productive employees.

If your organization is spending time trying to copy and apply generic fixes from a list, they are unlikely to deliver positive results. Nice one-off initiatives and job perks are not substitutes for a healthy and purposeful working environment and experience.

Employee Perspective

When starting on the engagement journey, it is important to first find out where your employees are underserved. This can require a lot of patience, an open mind, and an understanding attitude. It is not giving your employees everything their hearts desire; you still have an organization to run! It is about not wasting time or resources on benefits that employees haven’t asked for, that might feel condescending or belittling.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes when you talk to them about how the organization could better serve them. Be respectful and show that you are open to connection, collaboration and including everyone in the journey. Employees that feel heard are twice as likely to engage with the organization in a positive way. It is those positive connections that keep the business cycle healthy, productive, and profitable.

Organizational Values

Just as important as knowing where employees stand, is for them to know where you stand. Having clear and communicable values is pivotal in driving engagement with your colleagues. When people are clear about where you stand, it is a lot easy for them to stand with you. When their values align with those of the business, deeper more purposeful work is undertaken, that creates a much more positive and strong organizational culture.

This kind of alignment is fantastic for your service users, customers, and clients as well. When employees are engaged and aligned with the values of the business, they exude those values to the customers. In turn, this builds your brand image in a positive way in the minds and hearts of your target demographic. When customers feel that employees are happy and engaged in their organizations, they feel happy too, and this builds trust and life-long brand loyalty.

Breaking down barriers

In order to fully understand engagement, it is wise to consider your own attitude. You could be inadvertently creating more barriers, by making assumptions about the people that work for you.

We believe that the vast majority of people are honest and hard-working., When given a clear mission and set of desired outcomes, they will get on with the job to the best of their ability if they feel valued and have something meaningful to work towards. If you think your employees are lazy, or only there for a paycheck, what does this say about you? Blaming employees for being poorly engaged is like blaming a car for running out of fuel when you didn’t give it any gas. Lack of teamwork, poor relationships with managers and a lack of opportunity for development and grow are all key areas that can act as barriers to effective employee engagement.

A shift in mind set is needed, from “what can I do to force these people to be productive for me or my organization?”, to “what systems and processes can I put in place to attract and engage the kind of people who are naturally going to do an amazing job?”

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND approach can help you achieve this shift in mindset, by helping you understand your current organizational culture, identify what barriers to employee engagement might exist, and help you to remove them. Our service can help get you on the right track, so that your employees feel heard, valued, and appreciated, which in turn can only increase your productivity, positive brand image and profitability.

Alignment And Governance

The last in our blog series on alignment, looks at governance, and the way in which conflict often arises when organizations move away from their values, causing misalignment with their service users, customers, and employees.

Governance is an amalgamation of policies, systems, and structures, along with a strategic, operational framework that aligns organizational leadership to take action, so that they can make effective decisions with accountability.

People over profits

In order to be successful organizations, need to move away from quantitative governance, towards a more qualitative model. When the discussion is always centred on quantity, alignment is at risk.

A common model for defining corporate governance is to describe it as comprising of four pillars: the board of directors, management, internal auditors, and external auditors. Gaining alignment among these pillars is not easy, but it is possible when you live your organizational values. People always have a sense of authenticity about the organizations they interact with. If the governance is strong, values-led and aligned purposefully, that message will permeate employees at all levels and out to customers, service partners and local communities.

“To lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The statement is so simple; it is easy to overlook its profound impact. With this statement, the Roundtable CEOs are acknowledging the impact their organizations have on all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, communities, and investors/shareholders) and linking the value they provide to these stakeholders to the success of their companies, communities, and country.

They have committed to deliver value to customers, invest in employees, deal fairly and ethically with suppliers, and support the communities in which they work. This is quite a change from the profit and shareholder focussed approach which (in the extreme) takes advantage of customers, pays employees as little as possible for as much performance as possible, intimidates suppliers to provide more for less and uses communities and environments as resources to be exploited, depleted, and consumed.

Shared values

The people who live most purposefully and boldly embody their values, are not always the best able to teach that value back to others. There are repeating and noticeable trends of the effect of misalignment, anytime a major CEO leaves the company they built; consider Steve Jobs, leaving the company he built when the governance? fell out of alignment with his purpose, only him to be re hired 11 years later, after consistent profit falls. He may not have been the best able to articulate his purpose, but he lived it consistently and his passion to live purposefully, helped build Apple’s cult-like following.

Today, people pay a premium for Apple products, in part because they relate to the company’s purpose of enriching people’s lives. This example should serve as a reminder to any governing body, not to fall out of alignment with the vision, purpose, and values of your organization.

That is not to say, you must live completely unrestrained and give everything away! More, it is about finding the balance between the head (governance and profitability) and the heart (Values and purpose). This is where alignment is key, when you are able to find a way to communicate purposefully, the profits come as a result of practicing authentic purpose. Lead with the heart but keep the head on track.

Governance evolved

The world is ever changing, the rigid reactive structures of old are being broken away, in favour of more active and fluid processes. These frameworks are more fit for purpose in the way they allow for quick changes to be made when things aren’t going right. Having a governing board that is not accountable to anyone else, will never generate meaningful results.

The same is true, when a board spends all of its time in conflict over the outcomes of misalignment, poor public image, low profit, unhealthy workplace cultures etc. It’s tough work, but if there is a problem with outcomes, it’s important to examine the root cause of those issues, not just talk about the issues themselves. Don’t get mad at the rain, understand why it’s raining.

When done right, governing bodies will not be waiting for the next crisis, they’ll be actively tackling the issues, to build trust within the societies they sit, rooting out unethical behaviour and giving people faith in their purpose.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND framework can support governing bodies because of the ‘whole organization’ approach we are able to provide. Starting with how the organization’s purpose and values inform everything that organization does (the good and the potentially limiting).

We can help you realign your organization, from the top down, across all service partners to provide the best possible customer or service user experiences. Tailor-made measurement and insight processes will cut away procedures that do not add value and implement effective communication, reporting and corrective strategies to ensure everyone knows how to be the best brand ambassador for your organisation.

Alignment and Sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and a way of keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our SERVICEBRAND perspective is on organizational sustainability but, ultimately, the sustainability of all organizations is dependent on the sustainability of our planet, and we wholeheartedly support the urgently needed overdue efforts in this area.

Due to the vast scope and nature of the subject, there is no universally agreed definition on what sustainability means. Every nation, business, organisation, and individual has a different idea on what it is and how it can be achieved. Sustainability is not a new concept, with many indigenous peoples across the world having long histories of living in balance with their land and ecosystems. But the idea of global sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the World’s first Earth Summit in 1992.

The original definition of sustainable development is usually considered to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Organizational sustainability

A lot has changed since that first summit, there have been many variations and extensions on this basic definition. Business sustainability may therefore be described as cohesively managing and integrating the financial, social, and environmental facets of the business to meet the needs of the present without compromising future performance. It is about creating ‘long-term’ value for all stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, service partner organizations, local communities… and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

When taking a closer look at organisational sustainability, it often looks at two key areas sustainability practices have the greatest impact on. These being the effect on society and the effect on the environment.

The best outcome of a sustainable business strategy is to make a positive impact in both of these areas, by producing a product or service that is of benefit to society, while not negatively impacting the environment.

Often organisations will prioritise societal convenience over protecting or limiting their impact on the environment, and because of this, show no care or attention to either of these areas, while also failing to take responsibility for the damage they cause. It is because of this kind of behaviour that we find ourselves facing the challenges of deforestation, baron soil, water poverty, social injustices, and famine, to name a few.

Alignment

Societal and environmental stability don’t always have to be at odds with financial gains, there is space for them to align and provide the best possible outcome for the organisation and for the people and spaces it affects. This is what is known as a shared value opportunity. When you align your organisation with social and environmental needs, you will be able to drive positive financial outcomes with positive deeds. The more consistent and sustainable you are, the more likely customers and service users are to engage with you, and most importantly, stay with you.

Convenience has long dominated business focus because it works for short term profitability. But it is not good for the long-term goals of anyone involved. It can be harrowing to shift your organisational strategy away from a convenience led, fast profit model. But the long-term benefits far out way the short-term losses.

How to begin?

Realignment takes time and can seem overwhelming, but it will make a huge difference to the organisation’s future. Becoming a sustainable organisation requires being open to considering factors that previously hadn’t been a priority. How your decisions will affect the environment, the economy and social issues should always be considered when developing effective strategies. When you understand your impacts, it helps prevent the pile up of longer-term liabilities or crisis’s.

Thanks to dedicated climate and social scientists, it has never been easier to measure and reduce our impact on the world around us. From apps that help track and off-set carbon emissions, to water conservation, rewilding and forestry schemes, even renewable energy incentives.

Why should I?

Investors and rating agencies are increasingly considering businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, as sustainability moves up the political agenda. Social risks are typically those that affect the community in which a company operates, such as through health and safety, working conditions or economic opportunity.

As an indicator, ESG news in April had almost double the coverage compared to November. Investors are anticipated to spend $1bn on ESG data tracking by 2021 (20% per annum growth). BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has committed to making sustainability the new standard for investing (for the nearly $7 trillion in assets that the company manages) and has outlined several practical ways in which this will be progressed.

Global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative which aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

SERVICEBRAND

When you are able to align your organisation with sustainability goals, you establish a powerful narrative, one that connects you to your consumers and services users through mutual understanding of the responsibility we all share to make our planet a better and safer place to live. We here at SERVICEBRAND aren’t about lip service, we are here to help you create sustainability strategies that see you transform the way people recognise you, helping them to engage with you in a more long lasting and purposeful way.

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