Organizations seeking to create amazing employee experiences need to start with a Reason for Being, which acts as the foundation for the three employee experience environments–technology, physical space, and culture.
We’ve all heard of mission statements that typically set out to explain the purpose of the organization. Oftentimes they talk about being the market leader, providing shareholder value, delivering superior customer service, or something else along these lines. Although these statements may talk about what the organization is trying to do, they don’t go beyond that to make the leap from business to human. These statements or ideas do little to inspire employees or to encourage action. Organizations that deliver amazing employee experiences transcend this basic concept of a mission statement by connecting what the organization does to the people who are actually affected. In other words, it answers the question “What impact does the organization have on the world and on the community?” This isn’t about shareholder value, customer service, or profits, so you won’t find any of these things mentioned. A great Reason for Being is something that is unattainable, which forces the organization to keep thinking and dreaming big. It also needs to be something that rallies employees and ignites them–why should they care and why should they stand by you?
The four attributes of a Reason for Being are:
• Focuses on the impact on the world and people
• Is not centered on financial gain
• Is something unattainable
• Rallies employees
In a New York Times article, Cornell professor Robert H Frank stated, “One of the most important dimensions of job satisfaction is how you feel about your employer’s mission.” This should come as no surprise, but it should also force us to move beyond typical mission statements.
Look at the following statements and ask yourself whom they belong to and how they make you feel. Do these read like typical mission statements or Reasons for Being? The differences are quite stark. What companies would you rather work for?
• People working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership, as measured by: customer, employee, dealer, investor, supplier, union/council, and community satisfaction.
• Belong anywhere.
• [Company Name] is committed to our customer and employees, and dedicated to delivering the highest levels of satisfaction in the implementation and ongoing support of our solutions.
• To be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health and personal care items, seasonal merchandise, and related products and services.
• To refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and to create value and make a difference.
• To inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
• To offer the finest service that assures customer satisfaction with cost efficient structure and shortest delivery time.
• To be the leading supplier of semiconductor fabrication solutions worldwide–through innovation and enhancement of customer productivity with systems and service solutions.
• To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
• Use our pioneering spirit to responsibly deliver energy to the world.
From these, you can clearly tell the difference between organizations that are following the mission statement 101 guide and organizations that are creating a Reason for Being. In order, the companies listed above are Ford, Airbnb, McKesson, Kroger, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, EY, Applied Materials, Google, ConocoPhillips.
You can think of the Reason for Being as the umbrella that covers the three employee experience environments. Employee experience starts from there and affects the physical space, technology, and culture of the organization.
Salesforce.com does an excellent job of this. Its Reason for Being states:
“Salesforce.org is based on a simple idea: leverage Salesforce’s technology, people, and resources to help improve communities around the world. We call this integrated philanthropic approach the 1-1-1 model because it started with a commitment to leverage 1% of Salesforce’s technology, people, and resources to improve communities around the world. By encouraging and enabling communities to adopt the 1-1-1 model, Salesforce.org is helping to spark a worldwide corporate giving revolution.”
This statement clearly focuses on the impact on the world (improve communities around the world), is not centered on financial gain (the only mention of anything around the money deals with how much it gives, not how much it gets), is something unattainable (there are countless communities around the world), and definitely rallies employees who want to make a difference.
Very few organizations around the world incorporate their philanthropic efforts directly into the goal of the company and why it actually exists, especially if this isn’t a part of their core business. Salesforce.com has become known not just as a technology company but also as an organization that wants to improve the world. This belief and philosophy has been with the company since its creation decades ago and is one of the reasons why Salesforce is among companies with the top employee experiences.
As I have explored in my latest book, a Reason for Being helps companies determine their priorities and acts as the foundation for a strong employee experience. If you want your employees to feel valued and know what you stand for, start by creating a Reason for Being. This is something that can be created not just on a corporate level, but also on a team or even an individual level. Every company, every team, and everyone can and should have a Reason For Being, what’s yours?