In order for a brand to be strong on the outside, it must be healthy on the inside. That starts with employees.
So as organizations increasingly realize the importance of purpose, especially given the unprecedented and multiple challenges society is currently facing, it is crucial for them to build a more powerful sense of purpose with their staffs.
This was the prevailing and overriding sentiment as a quartet of industry leaders convened for a WE-hosted virtual event last week entitled “Inside Voices: Purpose-Driven Employee Engagement as a Catalyst for Change.”
Setting the stage for the webcast by capturing comments shared by a business leader with whom he’d recently spoken, Keteyian said, “We have to build a culture that can lean into change.”
“Leaders who identify and communicate about their brands’ authentic purpose,” he continued, “will forge the connection employees crave and guide business innovation and reinvention.”
The responsibility leaders assume in this pursuit remained a common thread throughout the discussion, which also highlighted recent WE research of management and C-suite leaders across global regions and sectors. Among myriad notable findings shared during the webcast:
•73% believe purpose leadership will become as important as financial performance
•65% say having a clearly defined purpose is even more important to overall business success than one year ago
•78% of leaders agree that they have a moral obligation when it impacts their employees
All counsel provided during the virtual event supported this overarching theme.
MAKING SURE YOU HEAR AND LISTEN
Another recent WE report – How to harness employee passion to fuel company purpose – delved deep into a variety of leadership issues, many of which were elaborated upon during last week’s virtual event.
Recognizing the need to “lead with purpose” and actually doing so are two different things. The webcast panelists, though, were armed with numerous bits of counsel to help in this regard.
To start, Cherry addressed the many leaders who have expressed concern that their employees will lose touch with their companies’ purpose in the current environment of disconnect and constant change.
It starts with not only listening to staffers’ thoughts about the purposeful actions their companies should take, but figuring out how and when best to implement them.
“One of the ways we’re trying to listen is through daily pulse surveys on our social channels,” she reported. “This helps us best understand where the gaps are and where our employees don’t have the clarity they need from us. That [constant communications] cycle needs to happen on a regular basis.”
Chen added how opportune a time this was to highlight team members who are really making a difference in others’ lives – internally or externally – and how inspirational that can be companywide.
“Led by communications pros, companies need to find those unexpected heroes among their employee base [and share those stories],” she advised.
WE’s recent study found that only 50% of respondents said their employee engagement programs are meeting employee needs. That chasm is a call to action that more must be done to ensure companies are taking care of their workforces holistically. And with COVID-19 still very much a part of our lives, this need is intensified.
“It starts with a realization that top-down doesn’t work any longer,” noted Tuttle, who also emphasized how important empathy has become as a leadership characteristic.
In addition, she added, the C-suite needs to realize that “employees do care how their brands are viewed externally. As such, the continuity between internal and external comms has never been more important.”
All panelists not only concurred with Tuttle’s statement, they predicted that internal-external comms connection would be the norm going forward. And as they continued peering into their crystal balls, they spoke about employee-engagement protocols adopted during the current pandemic that could very well become permanent fixtures at their companies.
For example, Cherry focused on the increased flexibility employers must now exhibit as many staffers have to juggle new home commitments with their work responsibilities. Even when things return to “normal,” this level of employee engagement will maintain.
Keteyian added how the current pandemic has heightened awareness among managers as to how crucial it is to appreciate and react accordingly to the unique individual needs of each employee’s situation.
Clearly, a company’s purpose presents itself not only in its external activities, but in the way it treats its employees and, in turn, creates the culture in which they all work. As driven home by the quartet of webcast panelists, employees’ ability to thrive can make or break that organization’s recovery. And in these turbulent times, leading and communicating with purpose has become even more important and can help drive brand resiliency.
The above is only a taste of the terrific discussion featuring Keteyian, Cherry, Tuttle and Chen. Click here to register and listen to the on-demand version of this WE-hosted webcast.