No matter the industry, for business owners, it’s important to understand that the foundation of employee happiness starts with fostering an environment where they feel part of a positive, rewarding employee experience.
This is confirmation of everything we believe. In fact, the foundations for employee happiness and productivity are the foundation of the first part of our name, Ampogee: Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are outcomes that occur when this thinking is in place.
We know you can impact change in your workplace. Here are a few examples of companies we admire who are doing things right.
Companies Leading the Charge
At Evernote, there’s a core belief that employees are always learning. For a company on a quest to build the best productivity software, they frequently tap the life lessons of famous note-takers who came long before, from Edison to Einstein. What makes Evernote unique is that each quarter, they offer the ‘Evernote Academy’ to employees who can learn about baking, gardening, painting, and programming. Some of the courses are taught by Evernote employees. “People are conditioned to think that work life and personal life are separate entities. Teaching through Evernote Academy has taught me how to bridge my design thinking skills with my personal side projects,” says Ali Albiani, an Evernote Product Designer.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO is the very public face of a culture that places importance on empathizing their workforce. We’ve heard plenty about Facebook’s fringe benefits, but recently Sandberg revealed internal initiatives for employee bereavement leave. After dealing with the death of her husband, Sandberg juggled dealing with the painful loss while returning to one of the most open workplaces in the world. For Sandberg, she needed to return to work to help her grieve but cited Facebook’s generous leave policy as being key to her experience. Since returning, she publicly announced an expansion of that policy, which now offers employees 20 days to grieve an immediate family member.
Obviously, Facebook’s successful business puts them in a position to offer this benefit. But Sandberg notes that the importance is thinking just taking the time to think about employees in ways that are not commonplace in the workplace. It can be a policy or a shared cultural belief.
“I think it’s great when companies do more,” she said. “I think it’s great when employees know that they’re valued, and I think there are a lot of ways companies can do this,” she says.
The ultimate test of employee happiness may be in place at Zappos. Known for embracing a quirky and creative environment for employees, Zappos believes if you’re not happy, you should find work elsewhere. After a three-month onboarding rotation in their call center, Zappos will pay employees $3,000 to leave if they find the work unsatisfying.
At Chick-fil-A, employees exude friendliness. That comes from a purpose-driven mission that is made clear to all the employees. Famously, founder Truett Cathy proclaimed, “We aren’t in the chicken business, we are in the people business.” While the food is a product that is in high-demand (just check out their drive-thru systems), it’s merely a means to impact people. When you say ‘thank you’ in their stores, the employees offer a genuine response, “my pleasure.” This culture is built into the organization from the mission statement, to training materials and is present long before an employee ever takes an order on the front registers.
Change Starts at the Top
So, what can you do to instill a cultural shift that places importance on employees and their happiness? Here are five tactics:
- Build Organizational Trust from the Top. This is something that can be started before your employee’s first day at work. Ensure that you’ve created recruiting strategies and onboarding materials that illustrate your company mission, vision, values, policies, and procedures. After talent has been hired, work to continue your retention strategy and work with management to ensure you keep employees for the long-term. To truly engage your employees, make sure that you have established a clear, purpose-driven mission with clearly thought out vision and values. If your management team believes in it, it will be easier for your front-line employees to invest and believe in it, too.
- Create Opportunities to Develop & Advance. Your best, most productive employees will flourish when you build a system that gives freedom for choosing their path. Independent thinking and employee autonomy give them the chance to find the best way to do their job while achieving expected goals and results. As a business, manage your employees in a way where the focus is on results instead of the processes they use to get there.
- Offer resources for Employees. It sounds simple, but ensuring your team has the appropriate physical, financial, and material resources to do their job effectively and efficiently.
- Build Effective Training Programs. The world is moving faster than ever. Make sure your team understands how those changes impact your organization. Establish training so they can acquire and build the knowledge they need to get their work done. The confidence you instill in them is priceless.
- Create a Feedback Loop. Develop a system that holds both employees and managers accountable. By conducting regularly scheduled surveys, you can figure out the level which employees are engaged. If there are areas that show up as red flags, invest in making improvements.
The stories above all showcase important elements under the umbrella of our core beliefs — autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
At Evernote, employees are encouraged to always learn (build mastery) through training and coursework offered beyond daily projects and to-dos. Facebook puts a ton of effort in empathizing with employees (generous leave policies), which allows them to make choices that reflect their best interest whether they’re personal or professional (autonomy). And, Zappos has decided that the cultural fit is a paramount concern in their hiring process, by ensuring that their team is staffed with people who will create incredibly positive experiences (purpose). They understand that they have to find the best people who align with that vision.
We really believe that we can learn a lot about other industries and apply some of that knowledge to manufacturing, where it’s often not a part of the dialogue. We think they can serve as a positive source for your organization, no matter what you are creating, building, and shipping.
In the world of manufacturing, there’s actually a few simple ways that business owners and management can lay down the foundations that embrace employees. Even the smallest actions can start to shift the cultural tone of an organization – things like recognizing the good of employees in a shift meeting, company meeting, or newsletter. If your manufacturing organization displays goals or objectives in shared spaces, add employee’s names to show how they contributed or accomplished something big. If nothing else, show your employees that you care by including them in functions beyond the daily grind, like company events, family picnics, or even by volunteering for a local charity.
In the next installment, we will dive deeper into some of the tactics that you can use to build a winning, positive, and happy culture.