Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Why Employee Engagement Matters

Leadership at most companies focus on making money, entering into the right partnerships and hiring top executives to keep business moving in an upward direction. But do they narrow in on their employees, the pillars of any thriving business? The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage, company value, and long-term strength, is the workforce, the people who represent the company. Investing in your employees and establishing strong company values is a necessity for any company that wants to retain top talent. As companies fight to out-perform their competitors, employees are the differentiator and engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we look at how trust is being perceived on the employee level and why the need for transparency continues to grow among the workforce. We also look how brands are engaging their employees in an effort to build stronger teams internally.

Infographic: Employees Are More Trustworthy Than CEOs (Ragan.com)

A new survey from Edelman shows that employees trust each other more than they trust the CEO. Edelman created an infographic that offers insight from their employee engagement practice.  The study found that employees are far more trusting of the CEO when it comes to the company’s financial performance. When looking at day-to-day livelihood at the company, employees tend to trust the perspective of a fellow colleague. Based on these results, Edelman made a few recommendations on how CEOs can raise their credibility with employees. CEOs should:

  • Demonstrate company values through anecdotal stories, giving employees the opportunity to relate more.
  • Get employee feedback when making big decisions.
  • Offer employees the opportunity to demonstrate leadership ability as an employee ambassador.

Why Transparency Is Essential to a Trusting Staff (Entrepreneur)

While the economy continues to improve and hiring is at a five-year high, employee trust is still lacking. Boston-based Interaction Associates released findings from their annual survey, “Building Trust in Business,” and mapped sentiment in the workplace for the past five years. The survey found that there is a definitive link between organizational trust and business performance.  Interaction Associates CEO Linda Stewart found that high levels of trust equated to high levels of performance. Most companies that were low-performing overall also had lower levels of trust. The study also found that trust levels have declined every year (with the exception of 2013) since the financial collapse. Some key takeaways from this study were closely aligned to the recommendations that came from Edelman on building trust. Stewart advises companies to include the entire company in discussions involving the larger corporate picture. This helps employees feel more involved, increase awareness of what’s going on internally and opens up opportunity for employees to share their ideas and feedback.

Why Your Team Matters More Than You (Forbes)

While Google CEO Larry Page addresses his current health concerns, the company continues to run without missing a step. Other companies may want to consider how their companies would continue to function if their CEO stepped out for an extended period of time. Building up a strong team can certainly maintain balance within the company during tumultuous times. The success of the company no longer rests on the shoulders of the CEO or company superstar and for this reason, Forbes contributor Ilya Pozin emphasizes the necessity for a well-rounded team. Pozin offers seven ways to strengthen and shape employees so they are able to carry-on with business without blinking. Here are a few of his suggestions:

  • Build a strong foundation.  Establish values that enable a strong culture and hold your employees to the high standards you’ve set for your company.
  • Empower your employees. Tap into each employee’s strength and help them build on those strengths, giving them an area where they excel.
  • Establish goals. Get rid of the task-doers mentality and help your team collectively achieve goals.

Amazon Is Building a Biosphere for Its Employees (Fast Company)

Amazon is creating an experimental work environment for its employees. The proposed project is located in Seattle and includes a biosphere intended to give employees a place to work and socialize in a more natural, park-like setting. Other Amazon office spaces have been described as “very vanilla” buildings typical of Seattle’s urban landscape. This move by the company comes during a time where various corporations are looking for new ways to invigorate their employees, increase productivity and create more open space conducive to familial relationships within the office. Companies like Google and Facebook are pioneers in this movement, building green roofs for their employees to enjoy as well. The new workplace environment will incorporate dining, meeting and lounge spaces and a variety of botanical zones.

Delivering Loyalty: 10 Lessons From Zappos.com (Business2Community)

For many years Tony Hsieh has been on a mission to deliver as much happiness to the world as possible through his business ventures. Zappos is a great example of a company that is rooted in strong values and an even stronger workplace culture. The company generates loyalty by being loyal to its customers, its community, its shareholders and its staff. While Zappos has been successful in building loyalty among so many different constituents, that doesn’t mean it comes easy for just any company. Here are a few lessons from Zappos on delivering loyalty:

  • Full of surprises. Zappos encourages creative freedom in all of their employees. Establishing a personal emotional connection with customers is what drives business and employees are encouraged to think outside of the box in order to maintain these strong customer relationships.
  • Makes heroes of its employees. There are three key components involved in shaping the employee experience at Zappos: trust, empowerment and compassion. Employees are not put on time constraints when it comes to time spent on the phone with customers. They even have access to an on-staff life coach who helps each employee set goals and offers support in helping them to achieve these goals.
  • The Zappos Core Values. Zappos invests in more than just a mission. The company has established ten core values and set its moral compass early on, giving employees clear and consistent values to aspire to in their day-to-day business.

 Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

1 Comment

  • A Gallup meta-analysis, reported on the HBR Blog Network, summarizes the drivers of engagement as follows: When employees “clearly know their role, have what they need to fulfill their role, and can see the connection between their role and the overall organizational purpose,” that’s the recipe for greater levels of engagement. See the full report:

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