Discontentment with their employers provokes 91% of workers to leave their jobs before reaching their full potential. This high turnover equates to additional costs in finding, hiring, and onboarding new people to fill the vacated posts.
An emerging business philosophy proposes a new way to increase employee engagement, and that's to trust them and treat them as equals, making them feel they're co-owners of the company. By making them see their value as stakeholders in the organization, they will feel indispensable and inspired to appreciate their jobs more. Nurturing this collective mindset will reap several advantages, and here’s how to start.
Empower: Provide Freedom
When you encourage a culture of ownership, you relinquish some control and transfer accountability to your point persons -- your "co-owners."
It already feels good to be trusted so well by a boss, but this motivates your employees even more to perform better and to take the initiative to introduce improvements.
Allowing your employees some degree of freedom creates a stronger bond between them and the company, and encourages creativity as they find new ways to solve problems and attain desired results. They will feel as though they aren’t just employees who simply take orders, but as respected members of the organization whose opinions are valued.
For companies whose chain of command has been inflexible, this may be a cause for concern at the beginning, especially when there's a plan to outsource or there's already an existing team of outsourced agents. This is where partnering with a reliable outsourcing company (instead of freelancing) to act as your overseer becomes a key factor to your outsourcing strategy.
Specify: Set Clear Expectations
However, all this freedom without direction is like handing your employees a map with no 'X' mark on it, and then expecting them to find the treasure.
The first key to successfully building an ownership culture is making your organizational goals clear. Your company's leaders will have to align their individual goals to the organization. Only then are they free to plan and decide which, they think, is the best path to take.
Present your target as a measurable objective. For instance, don’t simply say you want to increase your sales. Instead, say “We should work to raise our sales by at least 30% in the following quarter.”
Always keep yourself and your employees in touch with your CEO’s Intent (or Commander’s Intent), which according to Harvard Business Review "is the description and definition of what a successful mission will look like").
Guide: Provide Support
Poring over every decision or action of employees may work for smaller businesses, but not for the ones that aspire growth. Freedom empowers and engages employees. It inspires them to be more creative and confident, grooming them to become strong leaders who are loyal to your company.
In Rethink Staffing’s Agent Bill of Rights, this is the promise of the provision of "access to programs that will fuel [one's] success."
However, this does not mean you'll just sit and wait for the results. In fact, leaving employees on their own with minimal assistance or sense of direction may make them feel resentful. Guidance will be needed along the way -- be it in the form of funding, inputs, or motivation. Freedom, in ownership culture, essentially means collaboration.
If you want your employees to think like co-owners, treat them (to some degree) like one. Keep them informed of major company issues and solicit consensus before making decisions. Again, this shows that you value them. This elicits a feeling of deep engagement resulting to higher productivity.
Acknowledge: Use Positive Reinforcements
Develop a system where employees are recognized for excellent performance. The idea is that people will repeat actions they are praised for.
This doesn’t always have to be grand, such as a vacation package to Santorini for every closed deal. A pat in the back, a bonus, or a word of acknowledgement and praise, goes a long way in keeping employees stay motivated. Never deny job movement or advancement to worthy employees.
Be conscious, however, of having favorites, or at least, seeming to have one. Favoritism will dishearten other employees and cultivate feelings of envy, jealousy, and resentment -- all of which bring negativity to the workplace. Practice meritocracy.
When ownership culture becomes the collective mindset, everyone will think about the welfare of the company first. Collaboration, positivity, and productivity become the pervading tones. Who wouldn't want to work for such an organization?
Multi-awarded food company, Tasty Catering in Illinois, is always proud of this anecdote. Hugo, a culinary worker, called off a fellow employee for being disrespectful. One of the owners, Tom, witnessed the exchange, and proceeded to give the conscientious employee 20 bucks as a reward.
"It's my company, too," Hugo said, handing back the bill.