In the last ten years, for-profit companies are on a journey to reinvent themselves and embrace a more significant cause than profit to excite customers and employees around their offers. The ones succeeding in their transformation have an immediate opportunity to offer employees a highly desired benefit with higher chances to hit bulls' eye on the most pressing leadership challenge of today's - grow employee engagement. That benefit is remote working, and successful implementations require the right mix of technology and skills development if you want to harvest them to the fullest. It is time for CMOs and CPOs to hold hands and work together.
In this new decade, brands need a purpose as a token to enter the game. In a 2018 study called 'From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-led Brand,' Accenture's main finding was -"Purpose is now a powerful force helping companies build deeper consumer connections and improve competitiveness." Sixty-two percent (62%) of consumers globally want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts. Moreover, 65 percent say their purchasing decisions are influenced by the words, values and actions of a company's leaders, says the report. A MarketingDive's analysis of the story said -"Accenture found that a degradation of trust related to purpose can hinder competitiveness for a brand and cost potentially billions of dollars in revenue. But embracing purpose today also steps beyond simply sharing an opinion of a timely issue, and more often demands enacting a meaningful commitment to causes a company's core audience cares about. " It reflects directly on brand value too. Brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a brand valuation increase of 175% over the past 12 years compared to the median growth rate of 86%, Kantar Consulting found. Nike's recent "Just Do It" campaign starring the free agent NFL quarterback and social justice activist Colin Kaepernick has become a bellwether for brands successfully communicating purpose in their marketing while also driving business results. However, as a number of researchers have noted, including Forrester and now Accenture, the purpose-led approach must extend beyond one-off campaigns and statements to read as authentic. Nike, for example, has pledged to donate $5 million to organizations dedicated to ending gun violence, per the ANA news release, said MarketingDive.
CARING LEADERS AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
The impact of purpose goes beyond building consumer connections. It helps to create healthier workplaces too. Businesses can learn from nonprofits and find shortcuts to reverse the current disengagement levels. In a 2011 survey entitled Engaging the Nonprofit Workforce: Mission, Management AND Emotion (from opportunityknocks and the University of Nevada)- a key finding was that "Engagement and mission attachment are directly related. Employees want to work for an organization whose mission they believe in and where they feel the work they do directly contributes to advancing the organization's mission. Employers need to focus on strategies to create meaningful work for their employees." They also concluded, "A positive relationship with one's direct supervisor is positively related to employee engagement. We emphasize the importance of management training, as managers are the most direct link between employees and the leadership of the organization, and have the most influence over the average employee's workplace experiences." And that was one area nonprofits scored higher than for-profits, employees felt leaders genuinely care about them. Caring trusted leaders are the utmost agents to engage employees and teams.
It is needless to say, highly engaged employees drive better business results. A Harvard study showed a strong correlation between employee engagement and customer loyalty, which directly impacts business outcomes. Therefore, adopting a purpose for real triggers a virtuous cycle in business. It grows employees' engagement and, consequently, customer loyalty. It also attracts more humane leaders who are the key driver for employee engagement. On the other end, customers feel better served by those employees and better represented by the company's values. The cycle works like that - purpose drives engagement and attracts better leaders. Together they drive more customer loyalty and consequently better results.
Now, look at what Gallup reports on the importance of remote working to increase employee engagement. "Engagement is not an exercise in making employees feel happy -- it's a strategy for better business outcomes. It is true that engaged employees are more enthusiastic, energetic and positive, feel better about their work and workplace, and have better physical health, but engagement isn't a perk for leaders to dole out, it's a way leaders can improve KPIs. As decades of Gallup research shows, when employees are engaged their performance soars: Highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability. And job flexibility increases engagement."
Continuing, "Gallup discovered that engagement climbs when employees spend some time working remotely and some time working in a location with their coworkers. Weekly face time with coworkers and managers seems to affect engagement: the optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60% to 80% of their time working off-site -- or three to four days in a five-day workweek. It's worth noting that five years earlier, in 2012, the optimal engagement boost was experienced by workers who spent less than 20% of their time working remotely."
And if we project to the future, the more leaders and team members get comfortable with remote working, acquainted with the enabling technology, and new skills developed, fewer office visits will be required. Look at our case at WORKPLACE21. We have been working altogether a little over two years, and we have never been in the same room during this period. Our team spreads across Seattle, SLC, Toronto, Miami, and other international locations, and still, we have a highly functional and collaborative team. We can get a lot done, and everyone feels productive and empowered. As a leader, I measure the high energy level and engagement. Both our purpose of creating a better workplace and our focus on helping teams reach high performance is the fuel to the high engagement we enjoy.
EQUIP YOUR TEAM PROPERLY
Remote working can boost team productivity, engagement, and performance. Teams need to be compelled by its purpose, and also prepared and set for success, to deliver on those promises. Effectively mapping and developing essential skills are critical tasks to guarantee that teams communicate and collaborate well virtually. It is also vital to support leaders in the creation of trusting-working environments and coach them in becoming more humane and caring while setting challenging and achievable goals. Have the right mix of technologies customized for the various teams' realities is also a necessary condition to make them functional. Collaboration tools, file sharing, virtual working spaces, and few KPIs dashboards help team members belong even miles away from each other.
In times when remote work is mandatory, acting fast to create the right conditions for high team performance is crucial and how the best leaders will differentiate themselves.