There is little doubt that motivated, engaged employees build better companies. When people on every level of an organization are connected to their work, inspired to achieve, and driven by the prospect of advancement and self-improvement, they inevitably perform better – in real and measurable ways. This Forbes article includes a good overview of studies showing the connection between engagement, increased productivity and overall profitability.
It’s no wonder, then, that employee engagement consistently ranks as a prime topic of interest for small business owners, top executives at large companies, and of course the business consultants who want to help them all improve operational efficiency. It’s also a topic we’ve discussed on our blog, and one that we will likely revisit time and again in the future. In fact, based on our experience, creating a globally-connected workplace and large-scale programs to motivate and support employees, including our “Certified International Specialist” learning and development program, we believe engagement is an issue that every business should be thinking about – and acting on – each and every day. Simply put, your company’s success, and its bottom line, could very well depend upon how effective and entrepreneurial your employees really are.
Recently, DHL Express was certified as a Top Employer 2015 in the Americas by the Top Employers Institute. The company also received Top Employer certifications in other regions of the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. This unique certification program is important to us not just because it represents an outside, third-party assessment of how we are faring in our quest to build an employee-centered workplace (it suggests we are doing pretty well), but also because it sends a clear message to our employees that their individual success and the overall success of DHL Express are powerfully interconnected. It tells them that we are hard at work creating new opportunities for professional growth and achievement. And that message is itself one of the central components of an engaging workplace – a workplace that shows a personal commitment to employees, not just through its policies, but through its actions.
What are some of the other components of an employee-centered organization? Here are just a few.
Engaging and motivating employees requires more than the implementation of programs that promote employee satisfaction. It starts with the creation of a culture of respect and support that spans the entire organization and connects a positive environment with real results. This culture must be embraced by the top executives, managers and all the staff of the organization. At DHL Express, we call this culture “Respect & Results.” Our respect-focused leadership is committed to inspiring co-workers, encouraging idea-sharing by being open and approachable, recognizing diverse talents and motivating others to do their best work. This culture of respect is also one that aims for great results, centered on goal-setting, problem solving and quality service.
Performance-based financial rewards for employees should be designed not just to recognize great work, but to promote leadership. By encouraging employees, including top managers, to be better leaders, organizations create an environment where people regularly solve problems and get results – all while motivating others to join them. At DHL, we use leadership scores to set incentives for managers.
To fully engage employees, companies must give them room to grow and the tools necessary to make that professional growth happen. The prospect of advancement is a strong, positive motivator, and must be fully communicated to employees across your organization. Creating a strong career ladder for employees to climb encourages them to reach further, exercise their skills, and succeed. Make sure employees understand exactly how the ladder works, and be consistent in your plan for offering promotions. Our telesales employees, for instance, have a direct route to advancement into field sales, and the road to professional growth is clear from day one.
Connecting employees to the core of your business requires good communication. One approach is, of course, the delivery of regular email newsletters that feature stories about employees, information about your company and its history, and ideas about how employees can provide feedback and contribute to the future of the organization. A robust intranet is also a good way to connect employees to the company and their colleagues. The goal is to make sure that every employee is part of the discussion about your organization’s goals and its success.
To maximize the potential talent of your employees, it’s essential to understand exactly what your people have to offer – and to give them the support they need to excel. Regular, direct interaction between top company executives and employees at every level is an important way to create a sense of unity, and to find and motivate future leaders.