4 ways to instill company values and spur engagement

Your mission statement might just be tired platitudes, or maybe your articulated vision inspires employees to invest themselves in fulfilling those ideals. Consider these key elements.

Establishing clear vision and mission

When mission, vision and values truly reflect how the company operates, they drive staff engagement.

For some companies, those ideals are little more than words on the lobby wall; for others, they guide how employees approach their work.

Here are four ideas that attract employees to a company—and keep them engaged:

1. “I’m into what my company is all about.” The mission describes why the company exists. Put another way, if the company didn’t exist, what would be missing in the world? For example, I quickly Googled Google’s mission. Theirs is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

It’s easy enough to imagine what would be missing if Google never existed. Employees—notably younger employees—are more and more interested in their company’s mission. They want to be proud of their work. If they’re contributing to something, they want it to be meaningful. Is there something differentiating (or even noble) about the company’s mission? If not, wouldn’t they be just as happy at the competitor across the street?

2. “I think leadership has a good plan.” The mission is generally an aspirational idea that’s going to require effort to achieve. So the vision should succinctly explain how the company aims to achieve that goal. When looked at through the prism of the vision, the business strategy (long- and short-term, corporate acquisitions, key hires and every other major corporate decision) should make sense to employees.

3. “I’m clear about how my role contributes to success.” The vision also helps define what employees are supposed to be trying to accomplish when they start their workday. For Google, the vision is to provide access to the world’s information in one click.

For Delta, it’s to be the world’s most trusted airline. Theoretically, if the company hires well, it takes 100% of employees to achieve its goals. It might take some connecting of the dots, but each employee should be able to figure out how their work—the effort and commitment—contributes to the company’s success.

4. “I’m comfortable with how my company acts.” The values guide how employees should behave as they go about achieving the lofty goals of the company’s mission and vision. The values are instrumental in determining the kind of culture and work environment employees experience. Are we caring? Are we driven? Do we fight to the bitter end? Do we love our neighbor?

Most companies roll out the “values greatest hits”—integrity, teamwork, commitment and innovation—but those are cultural table stakes that don’t really differentiate. Values provide an opportunity to clearly define the intended culture of the company. They should be interesting enough to help a person understand whether yours is an attractive company to work for.

Steve Baskin is president and chief strategy officer at Tribe. A version of this post first appeared on Tribe’s blog.

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