Do Your Employees Really Know Your Company?

by Saba Software | Posted | Engagement

Do Your Employees Really Know Your Company?

Do your employees know what the CEO of your organization looks like? Have they been given the opportunity to meet the CEO? What about your organization's annual revenue? If you stopped an employee in the hallway right now, would that person be able to throw out an approximate figure?

A recent CareerBuilder survey revealed some intriguing insights about employees' knowledge, or lack thereof, about the organization they work for. The study sampled more than 7500 full-time US workers in late 2011.

So How Well Do American Employees Know Their Organization?

  • One in five American workers says they don't know what their chief executive looks like
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of workers don't know how much their company generates in revenue each year
  • Only 35 percent of workers can name all of the C-level executives at their organization
  • Workers in business services, sales and manufacturing are most likely to have met their CEO
  • The majority of workers in IT, financial services and retail say they have not met their organization's top leader

Why is it Important for Employees to Know Their Organization?

Employees who are aware are employees who care. When organizations share information and communicate openly about business operations, strategic objectives, successes and more it makes employees feel valued. It gives them a sense of purpose, and helps provide a big picture of the organization's vision and their role in executing on that vision.

Also, employees who know their organization and can accurately represent the brand and vision can influence external perceptions in a positive way.

Internally, employees who really know the organization they work for tend to be more curious and invested in its health and well-being.

Employees actively communicate and engage with each other about the organization when they receive regular updates about the business' activities and accomplishments. The more information they have about the organization, the stronger their ties to it are.

What Happens When Employees Don't Care?

There is an extensive body of evidence showing that the prime reasons employees don't care/are disengaged at work are: lack of motivation, commitment and purpose.

It's management's role to cultivate and strengthen these pillars. It's rare to find employees who will naturally exhibit such qualities without external reinforcement like praise, feedback and clear expectations. Defining clear roles and responsibilities for every employee instills in them a sense of ownership for their projects or tasks. As they saying goes, "No one washes a rented car."

People won't put in the same kind of effort into things they don't feel true ownership over. Disengagement costs organizations big time. Not only does it sap productivity and team spirit, it eats away at profits. Disengaged employees return a mere 60% of their salary in value as compared to their engaged counterparts, who yield 120%.

See our infographic on employee engagement for more information on the cost of disengagement and strategies for boosting engagement.

For insight on how job descriptions can help foster that sense of ownership, check out Halogen's Best-Practice Job Descriptions Center of Excellence.

Why Are We Here?

In an effective organization, the answer to this question goes beyond "For a paycheck" or "To provide the best returns for our shareholders". In fact, these are simply the outcomes when an organization's employees truly understand why they are there - when they live and breathe the organization's purpose and vision.

What exactly is vision? Vision is a path, a direction, a desired future state. Vision is what creates a sense of purpose. It may have nothing to do with the products or services you sell.

Really great companies, with an engaged workforce, have a clear purpose and vision and have key leadership figures who communicate these to every level of the organization.

Zappos, for instance, sells shoes and clothing apparel but their vision is to deliver happiness to customers, employees, and vendors. They have a unique culture that is founded on mutual respect, open communication and fostering creativity. If you look at Zappos' core values, the focus is on team-building, embracing change and family spirit.

Sales and profit are not even mentioned. What's most important is the way Zappos runs its business; the vision paves the way to a better business model.

When it comes to articulating the vision, organizational fit is everything, and Zappos has a unique approach to weeding out disengaged employees. At the end of their initial training, new employees are presented with an offer: Zappos will pay them a $1000 bonus to quit.

Offering this "bonus" enables new hires to self-select themselves out of the hiring process. It may not work for every organization, but the practice helps Zappos weed out any employees who are lacking the high level of commitment the company is looking for. (Source)

Let's Make This Company Ours

Leaders who want brilliant results from their teams need to make employees feel it's their company too. How? By making employees part of the decision-making process.

Collaboration is an essential ingredient for creating accountability and ownership. At first, it may take longer to come to a decision when pooling a large sea of minds. But implementing decisions in a comprehensive way unfolds much more quickly when everyone is involved from the beginning and is clear on the objectives.

Employees realize they have little final control over decisions the company makes. They may offer input, but at the end of the day, someone else is making the decisions. But it's important for employers to promote transparency and culture in their organization and give employees a voice.

For vision to strike a chord with employees, they have to feel like they matter.

5 Steps to Aligning Your Employees to Your Organization's Culture and Vision

1) Focus on goal alignment (There is a positive correlation between employee performance and organizational performance)

2) Involve staff in decision making (Employees feel their contributions are valued and purposeful)

3) Improve communication at all levels (Leaders and employees share a common vision and foster values every step of the way)

4) Give credit, recognition, awards, feedback (Members of the organization have a sense of pride in the work that they do)

5) Let them grow! (Offer all employees opportunities to learn and develop)

When employees feel valued and appreciated, they become motivated to make a difference, clear in their direction, more fulfilled and more committed overall.

Essentially, when your company says "We care", that makes the employees care too.

For more on how your organization an use talent management best practices to develop an engaged and aligned workforce, read our Employee Engagement Center of Excellence.

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