I belong, I matter, I am respected. As an employee of EASI, I really feel like I am making a difference by contributing to the company's strategy in our pursuit of business growth! I'm not the only one who feels this way, and that's because strategy here is not just something that belongs to the management, it's something that belongs to the entire company.
Strategy is something vague, but every company has one that is specific to how it is being managed. For each of us, business strategy means something different, and yet we always pursue the same thing, business growth.
Where it often goes wrong in that quest for business growth is that for many organizations strategy is something that is worked out exclusively with the management team.
Not so much a bad thing, don't get me wrong. It has something prestigious about it, and it is something that management is proud of.
But if you ask three months later in the corridors, what exactly is the strategy, you will receive quite often different answers.
How do you avoid those contradictions, poorly used resources, miscommunication, or simply the gap between strategy and execution?
The idea is very simple: “People are your greatest asset when it comes to business growth”.
The ivory tower syndrome
The bigger your company gets, the bigger the gap between strategy and execution.
A pitfall that is sometimes called the ivory tower syndrome. From that tower, you do have an overview of how the company operates as you see the bigger picture.
Don't be a copy cat, trust first party data
But the weak spot lies in the fact that you allow yourself to be carried away by figures, KPIs, and business models that work for other companies but not so much for yours.
And before you know it, your strategy is built on quarterly numbers, investment presentations, and consulting best practices, but you've lost sight of what really matters.
Your customers and the mission with which you started here in the first place.
Your people are implementing the change, give them a voice!
It doesn't have to be so black and white. For as important as they are, those spreadsheets, presentations, and KPIs, in essence they will always be supplemented by data from your customers, collected by your employees.
Those last ones are your eyes and voice on the work floor, the representatives of your brand.
Mix buttom-up and top-down to build a strategy
In modern companies, the quest for business growth or determining a crystal-clear strategy is a mix of top-down and buttom-up. To determine a strategy, you need to know what is going on amongst your people.
They are the ones who have daily contact with customers, and they are therefore also the ones who are in pole position to know what direction we should take.
Get everyone behind your strategy
When formulating your company vision, it is therefore better to focus on the execution of your strategy, and by that I mean your people.
This is where you can really create an impact, rallying the entire company behind the same strategy.
It will only make a real difference when you create a dynamic around it. Transparency and clear communication are the key to success.
Business growth = Employee engagement
Earlier, I wasn't just drawing your attention to the word “we”. The success of your company depends mostly on how you deal with your staff (read: the personal values of your company, ask yourself the question: who do we want to be and what do we stand for?).
The most prominent companies have been focusing on activating their employees for some time now. They give them a voice by allowing and encouraging them to take real ownership.
They go for authenticity, recognition, transparency, and trust and for many employees this is worth much more than a simple fruit basket.
You don't win the war for talent with a fruit basket
You could already read here that you don't win the war for talent with a fruit basket, a car or a ping-pong table. No, employees want an adventure, to be challenged, to be recognized, to be trusted without micro-management.
In fact, they just want to belong (don't we all?).
Business growth in this new era is undeniably tied to employee engagement. Not just happiness at work, wellbeing, or satisfaction. No, really some kind of emotional commitment of the employee towards his job, the company and its goals.
Activate your employees, let them take ownership
How can I invest into employee engagement? Just ask them. Both in formal and informal ways.
By means of surveys or during one-on-one conversations. You can ask them for their opinion, vision, how they are doing, but also what could be better. Dare to question yourself and your organization.
Put egos aside and dare to ask them how they see the direction of the company and what they need to be happy in their job and with your company.
Take real data driven decisions based on first party data
You and the management team can have your own vision, but from the answers gathered during conversations and surveys you can make up statistics.
These will give you a better overview of what is really crucial, more so than best practices from other companies.
A lot of companies today are focusing on the nice perks and benefits that come with a job. Of course, work should be comfortable, the work environment should be a mix of fun and work.
But if you really want to engage people, if you really want people to be involved in what you do as a company, then a ping pong table will hardly serve the purpose. 😉
When you ask them these questions, you must actually do something with this data. Otherwise, this only shows that you have no genuine interest.
The return on investment of an employee engagement strategy
Investing in people, not only in their skills but also in linking your company values to their personal values and creating a team spirit, appears in several studies to be the number one driver of business growth. Let's just let the numbers speak for themselves:
Gallup calculated that companies with higher employee engagement scores have 41% less absenteeism.
Your employees are also more productive, by as much as 17%.
Customer satisfaction also benefits; engaged employees go the extra mile to represent your brand. They will go above and beyond to make sure that others perceive that they work for a best-in-class company. 7/10 customers are willing to spend 13% more when they have a positive experience with your brand.
Adding up all the benefits, Gallup calculates 21% more revenue for companies with higher employee engagement scores.
So, what did we learn?
In your quest for business growth, you must dare to go back to the essence.
Do not shy away from vague concepts such as strategy or values.
Instead, try to turn them into something tangible in order to create a clear picture — for yourself and the surrounding people — of where we are going as a company.
If all noses are in the same direction, you close the gap between strategy and execution. You give your company a boost based on initiatives that can be linked back to strategic projects, and you avoid miss-communication or worse, wasted resources.
People are the greatest asset when it comes to business growth, and you can take that literally.
They are best placed to know which way the company should go. Put your ear to the ground with them. Not only for outlining your strategy, but also to know what is on their minds or what is on the minds of your customers.
They are your greatest source of income, not only in terms of money but also the new black gold of our time, data.
Use that data and get your business moving.