Is Organizational Commitment The New Gold Standard?

The age of digital disruption has changed much more than just the way companies incorporate technology or deliver goods and services to customers. It’s also changed the way we think about the places we work and our relationship to our colleagues and the brands we represent.

Practically gone are the days where an individual would spend their career at just one company, celebrating a gold-watch retirement after 25-35 years of service. Now the expectation is a pedigree of corporations in your bio, each more prestigious than the last, to show a pathway of progression and advancement.

This shift in attitude isn’t a bad thing – more and more companies are looking to bring in strategic hires who can solve a particular problem or advance them through a specific stage. Prospective employees no longer feel pressure to sign their entire life away just to get their foot in the door, and short stints within companies on a resume don’t set off warning bells like they used to.

Amidst this new emphasis on a mutually-beneficial, at-will relationship between company and employer, is there room for organizational loyalty and commitment? If so, how do you foster it?

The rising importance of shared values

There are several well known lists that come out every year, highlighting the best places to work around the world, such as Fortune and Glassdoor. These lists include a variety of metrics, but one thing is clear: the organizations taking top honors aren’t always paying the most money. Certainly, compensation plays a role in overall work satisfaction, but perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t at the top of the list.

More frequently, employees are looking to work in organizations where they feel a shared sense of value. 

Every company has a rhythm, and employees feel more satisfied when the culture and values espoused and practiced within the corporate environment mirror their own personal values. 

Values aren’t something to speak about in the abstract. To resonate, they must be carefully considered and clearly communicated. This is best done as part of a wider, strategic initiative. Companies who track strategic progress can more readily define how various projects or goals align with the broader corporate values. Values can represent anything from your approach to innovation and change, your mission in how you manage and serve your customer, your broader place in the world and how you meet the needs or expectations of your shareholders. 

To ensure you’ve chosen a team who feels connected to a shared sense of corporate values, there are important steps you need to take:

    • Lead by example, and do it frequently: we’ve all heard the adage that people leave managers, they don’t leave jobs. If you’re going to espouse a certain set of values, it is critical to live by them openly. This is especially important during challenging situations or crises; employees need to see that shared values run deep no matter the circumstance.
    • Teach, train and constantly communicate: Perhaps one of the worst mistakes companies make is to create a set of values and then leave them to sit, static, in a document or on a sign or as part of an employee onboarding process. In order to be effective, values should be interwoven into many forms of communication, including regular training, and they should be evangelized across job levels and departments.
    • Recognize and reward: There are many ways to recognize and reward employees who are exemplifying corporate values, from formal awards to informal accolades. The more you use recognition as a tool to emphasize shared values, the more important they become to the entire team.

You can’t underestimate the need to understand 

As important as it is to ensure employees feel aligned with corporate values, companies make a critical misstep when they fail to consider whether internal teams truly understand the organization. One of the quickest paths to weakening corporate culture is to silo teams and departments, without requiring even a cursory understanding of what happens outside their purview.

It may seem organizational comprehension would be hardest to achieve within a large organization, however it’s often small- to mid-size companies that struggle the most. A big reason for this is processes and procedures. Small companies tend to grow organically, and bringing in one to two people at a time doesn’t change the dynamic all that much. Communication channels are small, and each employee usually has access to the entire team or organization at any one time.

As companies grow however, this tight-knit community of shared values and a general shared ‘culture’ of the work environment inevitably starts to shift. One of the first and hardest hit areas is communications. New employees – particularly in a small or start up environment where everyone is busy with multiple tasks – do not receive proper orientation or are not given clear job responsibilities or expectations. As such, they have to learn a little at a time, often relying on those who have been in the company longer but never receiving an ‘official’ answer. 

If one or two individuals experience this, it is manageable. But over time, as these numbers continue to grow, this lack of organizational comprehension becomes a barrier to broader commitment and long term employee engagement and success.

To foster better comprehension, it’s important to consider it a mission critical activity that starts in the hiring process, is reinforced from the first day of work and continues on an ongoing basis. Staff should be well aware of what is going on within the organization, important events and other activities. StrategyBlocks makes it easy to communicate this through our highly visual system of blocks, that clearly outline a strategy, its necessary components and the progress of each one, all in a convenient dashboard. When the right employees have access to this visual, they can quickly see how the organization functions, what its goals and projects are, and how those map back to the broader corporate vision and mission.

Get everyone involved, not just ‘on board’

An organization can preach all day long about its values and its commitment to employees, but until you enable the staff to become an active part of the process, they won’t feel like they are a vibrant part of the team. The power to make decisions on behalf of the company, or to weigh in on important activities or goals of the organization gives an individual a greater sense of shared ownership in cultivating corporate values.

Cultivating greater involvement can happen in a myriad of ways, but one important element is to provide a positive work environment that delivers feedback in constructive ways to encourage, uplift and promote individuals. 

Develop trust among employees, foster innovative thinking and reward new ideas, even those that come with inherent risk. Delegate tasks to others and allow them to branch out of their typical job roles. In every opportunity, be transparent and upfront, helping to create greater confidence that every team member has sight of the company’s activities and why. StrategyBlocks helps teams move away from only focusing on completed KPIs, and instead to have a better understanding of strategic health and risk. This insight gives employees more ownership of the progress toward goals, without the constant concern of failing to meet a set-in-stone objective.

Organizational commitment is a crucial part of overall job satisfaction, and increased job satisfaction leads to more productive employees who stay with a company for longer periods of time. It doesn’t take much to create a greater sense of community, shared values and involvement with your team members, and the rewards prove substantial.