By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook
Now, more than ever before, people want to work for an organization they can be proud of. This is especially true of employees in the Millennial generation, who openly talk about wanting to be proud of where they work.
Any employer can create a culture where employees feel pride. Mission-driven organizations have a built-in way to make people proud—stress the mission and the impact that mission has on the community, the nation, and/or the world.
Companies in the for-profit arena can stress the good their product or service brings to the greater community.
Living up to the mission can bring a real sense of pride to employees.
In First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, the authors point to research Gallup did with more than 80,000 employees to find out what makes a great workplace.
My favorite is: “I connect with my company’s mission or purpose.” They believe that a deeply felt sense of purpose in life leads to excellence, and that we all want to belong to something of significance and meaning.
Most people want to make a difference and to contribute to something that will last.
Indeed, savvy organizations will find a way to give employees a sense of purpose and to enable them to make a difference—either on the job or by providing opportunities to contribute in their community.
Practice makes perfect
I spent much of my HR career with Marriott International, and that exposed me to an organization that is dedicated to service excellence and to giving back to the communities it serves.
Each year, Marriott continues to sponsor a worldwide day of service called Spirit to Serve our Communities.
This commitment—along with the support the corporation provides organizations such as Habitat for Humanity International and The American Red Cross—demonstrates to employees just how committed the company is to giving back. And what a sense of pride that brings to everyone who participates in the day of service!
Employees volunteer for all kinds of projects in their communities. One year, a group of us cleaned up a local park before it opened for the season. This was fun and a great team-building event, as well as doing something significant for the community.
Why is giving back so important?
More often than not, employees want to work for ethical organizations—that also brings a sense of pride.
Most of us remember the scandals with Enron, WorldCom, and others—how difficult those scandals must have been for the average employee who had nothing to do with the unethical behavior! Imagine what it felt like to go home and tell your family what your company had done! We all should learn from those experiences and vow always to do the right thing and to work for organizations that operate ethically.
Here are two simple ways to encourage employee pride in the organization they work for:
- If your organization donates money or services to charities or other causes, be sure your employees know your commitment to that cause. One organization I know of surveys its employees to ask if there is a particular cause they would like to support. Each year, the company picks one employee’s suggestion and holds fundraising events for that particular organization.
- Have your charity work complement your mission. Another organization I work with supports a national charity that does work around their mission—the company provides neonatal services. The March of Dimes is a logical charity for them to support and to involve their employees in fundraising.
So give your employees reasons to be proud of your organization. They will respond and they will be more engaged in their work and, hopefully, stay with you as your organization grows and prospers!
About Barbara Mitchell
Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and has consulted for a variety of organizations around the world.
She served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.