How many of your employees could recite your mission statement, or even summarize it? If your answer is “almost none,” you’re missing out on a powerful engine for employee engagement. Too often, the company mission statement quietly resides on a website page no one ever looks at, while the actual fabric of company life is woven from the strings of daily tasks. Here’s why your organizational health depends on having a mission statement that resonates with your employees, and a few words about how to make that happen.
Mission statements should drive engagement
People need a purpose for the work they do. A job for which a paycheck is the sole motivator usually leads to a disengaged if not alienated workforce, and obviously no business thrives in that condition. While few workplaces may be subject to such a total emotional disconnect, many still have plenty of room for improvement: In our 2015 North American workforce report, we discovered that more than half of today’s workforce (57 percent) don’t find their company’s mission statements inspiring at all. Here’s one possible reason: 61 percent of survey respondents stated that they didn’t even know their company’s mission.
Employees play a crucial role in setting the mission
Bruce Casenave, Nautilus Inc. CEO, points out: “Not only does your company need to maintain clearly identified values, but every employee must understand his or her role in supporting the mission in order to achieve the collective results.” Harvard Business Review adds, “Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.”
How to encourage employee input
Soliciting and vetting ideas from large employee populations may sound like an impossible time sink, but with today’s collaboration platforms, it’s more doable than ever. Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst relates his company’s successful use of a global communication tool to invite employee input on rewriting the mission statement. He admits that the process did give rise to blunt commentary from workers to managers, but a free exchange of ideas was essential for establishing companywide buy-in to the final statement. A leader can jump-start the creative process by posing open questions to workers, such as “What do you think we do well?” or “What should the company core values be?”
Allowing your employees to express their vision for the company mission can only have a positive impact. Such mutual goal-setting is a great practice for making sure your employees feel aligned with your overarching business objectives and motivated to help you meet them.