All business leaders will tell you that their people are their most valuable asset. They’re what makes a business tick, its greatest ambassadors and an invaluable source of insight and ideas. But none of that comes without a clear belief in, and commitment to, the right organisational culture; one in which people feel they “fit” and can thrive.Get it right and the evidence stacks up to tell us it will positively impact the bottom-line, whether through higher productivity, enhanced performance, happier customers or lower staff turnover. At a time when the labour market and working practices are changing, with a sharper focus on work-life balance and mobility, companies that want to succeed and grow sustainably need to adopt new ways of working. And at the heart of the challenge – and opportunity – is today’s multi-generational employee base. Never before have so many diverse generations existed alongside each other within the workplace. Millennials are having a resounding impact on how employers cultivate an organisational culture to attract and retain the best talent, but generally there’s now a greater need to focus on the individual and their values, while considering how to nurture a collective sense of purpose, harmony and well-being. As a senior leadership team, my colleagues and I have thought long and hard about how to strike the balance. And as we’ve grown over recent years, I’ve developed four core beliefs around what it takes to create an empowered culture.
(1) Shared purpose and passion gets you a long wayIt’s no longer enough to talk the talk when it comes to an organisation’s core purpose. Employees want to believe in the mission or corporate direction of the business they work for; it has to be meaningful and authentic, and they want to feel inspired to be part of delivering it – they want to walk the walk. For many, this means choosing to work for organisations that value social progress alongside business success; they want to contribute to a bigger movement, the principles of which are focused on “doing right.” Not every business is contributing to something as societally fundamental as early life nutrition – we’re privileged and we never take it for granted. The sense of pride and passion in what we do is tangible in our business. But regardless of sector or type of organisation, investing in engaging, inspiring and educating all employees on why what they do matters, and how their daily roles contribute to the bigger picture, reaps rewards. And there’s no better substitute for real experience – immersing employees in the customer’s perspective or exposing them to the wider business context – to impassion people around company purpose and the difference they can make. It’s also important to create a direct link between what the business does, what it stands for and how it behaves. We call this “living our cause”. From the investment we make in the communities we serve – such as our Healthy Eating for Young Children programme that helps families in deprived communities – to our ‘Family Hero’ portfolio of enhanced employee benefits, we put our values at the heart of all we do. Read on to find out how to involve employees in the decision-making process.
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