How much does it matter if employees are proud to work at their organizations? The answer is quite a lot – including how much it can impact an organization’s performance.
Typically, when we look at organizational survey results, senior management shows the highest levels of pride in the organization, with the numbers falling as you move down through the hierarchy. Yet this isn’t always necessarily true, and many organizations are able to maintain high levels of pride throughout the ranks.
To better understand how organizations earn employee pride, let’s start by looking at why senior leaders have high levels of pride:
- They have more control over their own future and, most likely, decision-making; when they rate their organization, they are in some respects self-rating. If you are the one calling the shots, how can you not be proud of what you have created or accomplished?
- They generally have a clearer understanding of the organization’s mission and goals; these typically align with a leader’s own personal beliefs and values.
- They generally can get what they need to accomplish their work, (at least more so than others) and can often leverage their efforts by enlisting others.
- They often feel more positive about their future within the organization.
- Leaders are made to feel very valuable and critical to organizational functioning, plus pay and benefits are usually much more lucrative at the senior level.
Organizations that have managed to sustain pride through their ranks typically have the following in common:
- They are viewed as having effective leadership, as well as innovative, high-quality products that either dominate or have a significant share of their industry.
- Communication to employees is clear and frequent, with an emphasis on how individual employees support the organization.
- They give people the resources they need to get their jobs done well.
- Employees have a sense of their future within the organization, and the belief that if they stick around, they will personally benefit from the organization’s success.
- Leadership makes people feel valued and treated with respect and dignity.
People in all different types of occupations want to be proud of the work they do and what the organization accomplishes.
Instilling a sense of pride in your employees begins with instilling a sense of meaningfulness or purpose; employees need to sense that what they are doing is important. (And if their work isn’t important, then they shouldn’t be a part of the organization.)
The drivers of pride in various organizations are not static, changing with the global trends. Currently, issues around diversity and inclusion, or employee health and wellness, might be drivers of pride for many. Those working for companies that were at the forefront of helping the world survive the COVID-19 pandemic certainly feel a great deal of pride.
Organizations filled with employees who don’t have pride are at risk.
Turnover is likely to rise, especially in today’s competitive talent market. The level of quality declines, errors will increase, customer service and satisfaction suffer and the organization as a whole will start a downward spiral. Organizational performance in general will decline. Companies looking to maintain their competitive edge should measure pride in their employee survey, and take the results as indicators of how they are doing as an organization. And if pride scores are low, refer to my article on Message, Performance, and Future to learn how to improve.