Blog post by Wendy Lund, CEO, featured on PRNews Online
In most cases employees are, and will always be, a brand’s greatest asset. They drive in-house and agency success. Engaging them should be the highest priority.
It’s the CEO’s responsibility to help achieve a singular, straightforward vision that propels the business and energizes employees to be best in class, renowned for unrivaled talent, forward-thinking capabilities and unrelenting client service.
Achieving a vision like this requires building an incredible company spirit where every employee feels that “we are in this together” and maintaining an exceptional culture that embraces doing something different for clients, colleagues and the community. Central to the creation of this shared passion for success is a dedicated plan for actively engaging and motivating employees.
Engagement Tied to Client Achievements
It’s critical to motivate employees to avoid settling for the status quo and encourage them to think deeper, go the extra mile and do things differently and better. A lot of cliches, yes, but they are keys to better performance. To help staff live, breathe and celebrate great thinking and outcomes and to integrate this into a company’s culture, there needs to be an ongoing commitment to harnessing employees’ dedication to their work. Several of the following have proven successful:
• An awards program that recognizes employees who epitomize the values of the company.
• Monthly spotlights of great initiatives to highlight teams that execute new, different and effective programs. Timed to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament or some other sporting event, an annual competition among teams. The teams are awarded points for receiving accolades, growing revenue, orchestrating program milestones and sparking innovation.
• Welcome lunches with the CEO for new employees. This allows the CEO to meet new staff and share the company’s vision.
• “High fives” at monthly staff meetings to honor people who have done things differently and better.
These are examples only. Options are limitless, of course. The point is to find what works best with your employees and have fun doing it.
Training & Development & Distinct Needs
To help foster a culture built on achieving greatness, it’s important to offer employees highly experiential and hands-on experiences that relate directly to the transforming and diverse work they do.
For example, as we know, PR today is global. As boundaries disintegrate it’s essential that all employees and PR teammates have an understanding of the regional and local nuances that color effective communications around the world. To that end, companies have given staff the opportunity to spend time working in overseas offices to help expand their global mindset. Incidentally, the same holds true for overseas employees—having them work for a period in your U.S. office(s) can be beneficial. Beyond that, encourage employees to work in other offices throughout the U.S., should they have the desire to temporarily relocate to a new city.
One area that always seems to be a challenge in engaging employees is new business. This is true particularly when it comes to balancing and prioritizing new business with existing (and paying!) work.
On the agency side, to elevate employees’ comfort with—and love for—new business, consider staging a “new business boot camp,” where you introduce formal methodology and approaches to new business and provide resources to support these activities.
In addition to formal programs, “lunch & learn” opportunities are an excellent way to train staff through highly interactive sessions. Outside experts should be considered to help facilitate discussions with senior managers on communications best practices, managing people and teams for success and mastering sound financial management.
Maintain a Work-Life Balance
Various efforts to engage employees are all fine and well, but how can you keep staff refreshed, at the top of its game and motivated? It’s critical to pay close attention to specific needs of each employee and ensure a good work-life balance. As previously mentioned, employees likely are your greatest asset, and everything we as managers do should be carried out with an eye toward creating a superior work experience.
From encouraging team members to live a healthy lifestyle to allowing them to take the time they need with their families (and actually use their vacation time) to providing a liberal telecommuting policy to something as simple as a Summer Friday program. All of these can make employees feel good about themselves and their work. I find that the quality of the work and the team spirit is best when employees know that they and their work-life needs are being considered.
By treating staff as your brand’s greatest asset and making sure that its every contribution is valued, you will be able to pull greatness out of every employee and achieve your company vision.