Episode 1: Embracing a people-centric philosophy in the retail world
In this exciting new series, we’re shifting our focus to the people side of the business—the heart and soul of successful organisations.
Our compass is set on understanding what truly makes a business thrive and its employees flourish. So, let’s dive into the first instalment of “The People First Philosophy: Unveiling Employee Culture, Experience, and Engagement.”
Debunking the engagement myth: What’s culture got to do with it?
In the world of workplace buzzwords, “employee engagement” often takes the spotlight. But let’s be clear—engagement isn’t the whole picture. It’s not synonymous with culture. Culture is deeper—it’s the attitudes, behaviours, and the very essence of a company. Think of it as the foundation, and engagement as a vibrant branch stemming from it. So, while engagement is vital, shouldn’t we be digging into what truly shapes culture?
As we peel back the layers in our journey through people-centric philosophies, it’s evident that the spotlight shines bright on engagement. Elevate engagement, and you’re promised improved retention rates, skyrocketing productivity, and a financial uptick. Engagement becomes the internal compass—a golden KPI guiding companies to success. Engaged employees aren’t just there; they’re present, invested, and putting in the effort.
BUT… here’s where the plot thickens – before diving into engagement, there’s a pivotal step we can’t ignore. Placing all bets on engagement to build culture might just be a misconception.
Engagement vs. Happiness: The Real Deal
“Engagement” might mean being absorbed in your job, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all smiles. Engagement isn’t a magical happiness wand. Companies have to go the extra mile with programs and solutions that support employees’ overall well-being. Wellness initiatives, flexible work options, incentives, mentorship, and celebratory moments are all part of the engagement mix.
But let’s set the record straight—higher wages or slick staff schedules aren’t engagement game-changers. The heart of engagement? Purpose. And purpose… now that’s the engine behind culture.
Yes, culture and employee engagement are like dynamic dance partners. But here’s the twist—you need one before the other. Like building a house, you need a solid foundation before you decorate the rooms.
Charting the course: Crafting a purpose-driven culture
So, how does this puzzle come together?
First and foremost, let’s make it clear—happy employees aren’t just an HR thing. They’re a business imperative. And it all starts with nurturing a company “purpose.” This involves defining the values, mission, and vision of your organisation. These pillars become your North Star, guiding decisions and actions.
But here’s the kicker—rolling out a robust purpose isn’t just about putting words on paper. It’s about engaging employees, communicating the purpose, and embedding it into every nook and cranny of your business. However, the journey doesn’t always match the intent. A McKinsey survey in 2020 revealed that while 82% of US companies recognised the importance of purpose, only 42% saw its true impact.
Why? Because building a purpose-driven culture isn’t an “add-on.” It’s not a decorative feature—it’s the spine of your strategy.
Cultivating the culture-purpose symphony
Imagine asking every employee about your company’s purpose. Would their answers align? From the C-suite to newcomers, would they all sing the same tune?
Culture is your organisation’s personality—the blend of beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and practices. It’s what speaks louder than any mission statement. And here’s the secret sauce—purpose breathes life into culture. A purpose-driven culture makes each employee feel valued, respected, and significant. It aligns leadership, strategy, communication, and priorities.
Values at the Core: Crafting the culture-purpose alchemy
Interestingly, LinkedIn announced at the start of the summer that they would be introducing a new filter to to ‘make it easier for jobseekers to discover open job opportunities that align with their values’, which include EDI and work-life balance. This makes sense when you consider that two-thirds of people in the UK consider it important to work for a company with values that align with theirs, with work-life balance (62%), career growth and learning (43%), and equality, diversity and inclusion (37%) among workers’ top priorities when looking for a job.
So, how do you weave values into the heart of your business? It’s about more than words on a wall. It’s about action, alignment, and authenticity.
- Define Your Values: Clearly articulate your company’s values, keeping them relevant and aligned with your business and industry.
- Lead the Way: Leadership sets the example. They embody the values, make decisions aligned with them, and hold everyone accountable.
- Integrate values: Infuse values into every aspect of the employee journey—from hiring to performance management.
- Keep the conversation alive: Regularly communicate and reinforce your company’s values, sharing stories of employees who embody them.
- Walk the Talk: Align every business practice with your values, from product development to customer service.
Purpose-driven harmony – In the heart of this captivating symphony lies a truth—a purpose-driven culture.
It’s the blueprint for a workplace where employees aren’t just showing up, but thriving.
By embracing values, integrating them into your DNA, and infusing purpose into your culture, you’re sculpting a masterpiece of engagement, fulfilment, and success.
Tune in tomorrow. We’ll be talking to Sue Ryder, winners of the “Employer of the Year” at the People in Retail Awards, 2023. Sue Ryder say: “We champion the feeling of being valued“.
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