Get Your Employees to Care by Meridith Elliott Powell

Last week I was having breakfast with my nephew who is 23 and just entering the job market. After graduating college, doing the obligatory “goof off” year, he buckled down to find a “real” job.

As most graduates experience it is not that easy to find the job of your dreams, so my nephew settled for taking what he could get rather than having to live at home. I know, how lucky are his parents! And just two short weeks ago he was rewarded with an amazing opportunity.

He landed a position at the coveted New Belgium Brewery in Asheville North Carolina. Now I say this is an amazing opportunity because what 23 year old does not want to work in a brewery? However, beyond that, the jobs at New Belgium are not easy to get, and he is lucky to be part of such an amazing culture.

The company boasts a 93-percent employee retention rate. These days that is pretty much unheard of in the workplace and a challenge with millennials. Add to that, his position comes with full-time work and great benefits. Not easy to come by these days.

I am proud of him, so we went out to celebrate over a good fattening southern breakfast!  While I knew he was working full-time, I asked if he was going to keep one of his previous jobs. I asked because I knew he loved the work being director of outdoor education at one of the camps in our region. (Out of respect I will not reveal the name.) Also, I knew they would be open to keeping him one or two days a week, just the amount of time he has off from New Belgium.

The response my nephew gave me to that question really gave me insight as to why some companies can attract and retain employees, why some can’t, and why nothing is wrong with this younger generation.

Cab went on to share that while he loved that job in outdoor education, his experience at New Belgium had really opened his eyes to what a work culture should be. Because of that he was not going to continue his relationship with his former company.

See at New Belgium, Cab noticed that despite the heavily competitive industry, they still invested in their employees. They offered full-time work and benefits. Everyone in the company from the CEO throughout every level, knows the companies story, history and values. More importantly, Cab shared that what leadership does and the actions they take are completely aligned.

I asked him to explain, and his quote said it all. “When I walk into New Belgium and I see a cigarette on the ground I pick it up, I do it without thinking. New Belgium cares about me, so I care about New Belgium. “

He has a supervisor who trains him, meets with him and invests in his growth and development. And the company provides plenty of opportunity for team members to build community and connect with each other and New Belgium. Lastly, and most importantly he sees a future for himself as the company, and he wants to work hard to ensure he is ready.

So where did his last company go wrong? He loved the job, enjoyed the work, why did he not stay? Cab said in that job there were no full-time opportunities available. It was Cab’s opinion, that they wanted everyone to work under thirty hours so they did not have to pay benefits. Save a small orientation, he was never trained or provided development in his role. Lastly, and most importantly he just did not see a future for himself. And it was not just him, he said most employees felt the same way that he did. Moral was low and turnover was high.

See getting employees to care starts with leadership caring about our employees.

4 Strategies That Get Results

  1. Embrace the Idea – understand that your only competitive advantage you have left is the engagement level of your employees. Customer experience, business growth, bottom line results, it is all connected to employee engagement. The more they care, the less they turn over, the more successful you are going to be.
  2. Create the Culture – define what you want your culture to be, what you want it to say about you as a company, and what you want your employees to experience. Creating the culture creates the roadmap that defines who you are. It defines the promise of what employees can expect.
  3. Align Actions to Words – ensure that every leader on your team understands the culture, embraces the culture and aligns their actions to the culture. Get this right at every level of your organization and you build trust.
  4. Celebrate the Wins – getting your culture right is not easy, and it takes time. So every step you take in the right direction, every leader you see making the right moves slow down and take the time to celebrate the wins.

Trust me, there is nothing wrong with this younger generation. As leaders, we just need to understand that the messages we send create the actions they take. Put your energy into caring about your employees, and see how much they start to care about your company and your customers.

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