Monday September 15, 2014
Before starting this piece, I quickly surveyed the team; asking ‘what makes a great place to work?’. As you would expect, their answers included “friendliness”, “benefits”, “perks”, “variety”, “good lunches”, “fun employee events” and of course “people, people and people”.
As I dug a little deeper the true answers came out: “inspirational leadership”, “strong values”, “treating everyone fairly”, “variety in what we do” and “the promises made are delivered upon”. This last answer really got me thinking. Companies can do employee surveys and ask their employees if they are happy, but that alone does not make a great place to work.
In reality, it is about being consistent in the delivery of your promises, creating that environment throughout the year and not just 6 – 8 weeks before your surveys!
No organisation or company is perfect though. There will be the good times, where business is strong and everything is aligned making the delivery of the employee value proposition simple. And then there will be difficult times where issues arise and focusing on your people promises moves slightly lower down on the priority list. It is in these later times, however, that a company’s true worth is seen. Those dips and valleys show you how strong your foundation really is and will either pull you through quickly or prolong the agony.
Building that strength starts with your vision and values. Are they clearly articulated, understood, and, very importantly, living each and every day in your organisation? It is one thing to say ‘respect’ is one of your values, but are you truly showing empathy towards others? Are you acting with integrity ensuring you are fair and honest? Do you show regard for your community and environment?
Your vision and values need to be so much more than words on the wall; you need to ensure they live in your organisation and are practiced by each and every employee, starting with your leaders who will set an example for everyone else. We can all offer great benefits such as wellness centres, excellent learning and development programmes and opportunities for growth, but if we do not live and breathe the vision and values, all our other efforts are in vain as we will not truly engage with our employees, and in return they will not engage with us, or our customers; something we cannot afford to let happen.
Take the necessary time and effort to take these words off the wall and truly define your culture. Make them the foundation of your employee’s belief in your organisation. Then when you create and deliver all of those other great benefits traditionally associated with a ‘great place to work’, you will have created a sustainable culture that you just need to keep nourishing for continued success.
Eugenio Pirri, VP people and Organisational Development at luxury hotel group Dorchester Collection, was crowned HR Director of the Year 2014 at this year's HR Excellence Awards, while his team took home Outstanding Employee Engagement Strategy, Best HR Team and the overall Gold Award.