Humans are hard-wired to seek out experiences that make them feel good. Gone are the old 20th century days of “hard work” netting you a nice paycheck every week. Employees want to feel good about their careers. Not their ‘jobs’ – jobs are meaningless tasks performed for pay; careers are a choice, a lifestyle.
Employees who show up because they feel good about what they’re doing are happier. Company culture counts, also. They expect the company to support their career moves, and they feel good when that happens. That kind of culture is a great way to spark new ideas and new ideas are the cornerstone of real innovation.
Here are five feel-good ways to spark those new ideas:
1. Empower your employees.
Really. Give employees the power to handle the issues that come their way, regardless of their job description. Competent employees – employees who value their work – will always do the right thing. The right thing might be conferring with co-workers or supervisors, or it might be handling the problem without outside help. The power to solve problems not only leaves employees with that “feel good” sense of accomplishment, it tells customers that you value your workers – which means you value your customers.
2. Create a volunteer culture.
Company culture is imperative to that “feel good” attitude. As noted in this blog post on Sybil Stershic’s blog, Quality Service Marketing, “Corporate culture shapes what we do (behavior) and how we do it (performance). Ultimately, it is like an invisible but powerful set of expectations that influences the way people work in organizations.”
By allowing employees free time to volunteer without having their paycheck docked, you create immediate positive return. Not only does the organization come out smelling like a rose, the employees gain a strong sense of accomplishment from giving back. The ability to give back on a regular (monthly) basis creates more goodwill than a quarterly bonus.
Share and share alike is what your mother taught you to do as a young child. So, why have we created business processes that need to be hidden or protected? What are you protecting? Today’s social connections are trampling on the idea of brand ownership. Your brand has always belonged to the people. On Tuesday of this week, J.C. Penney took the plunge into sharing in a big way. Paul Chaney wrote about it on Practical eCommerce, in his article, “ J.C. Penney Moves Entire Product Catalog to Facebook.” You can now buy anything previously offered on the J.C. Penney ecommerce site, on Facebook.
This is a first step in the evolution of sharing online. It’s a beginning – an opening of the previously “private” door located in the back of every retail store. To quote from the article, “The value of Facebook and other social media sites to retailers is greater than previously thought,” stated ecommerce consultant John Lawson, reporting on a recent survey conducted by social media marketing company Media Logic. “Out of 100 retailers participating in the study, all of them have seen tremendous growth on their respective Facebook pages,” Lawson said. Not only will your employees get on board with this idea, and love it, the world will, also.
4. Begin a mentoring program.
No, not mentoring employees. One hopes you are already doing that. I’m talking about mentoring high school or college students. There are few experiences in life more rewarding that teaching. Not all of us are cut out to be teachers – it’s a tough job with long hours. Most of us are able to mentor, however. Mentoring involves once or twice a month meetings with one person or a small group, where expertise is shared. By starting a mentoring program for students in your local area, you gain insight into how the next generation of consumer thinks. You also promote good communication skills. It takes good communication skills to mentor effectively. Mentoring helps employees feel valued for more than the typical day-to-day tasks and gives the students valuable insight into the futures.
5. Invest in a local startup.
Seems like everyone is going solo these days. If you’re not starting a business of your own, you’re thinking about starting a business of your own. Most startups lack the knowledge and experience to get from square one to square 21, let’s say. The passion and desire is there, the belief that they are filling a need is there, what’s missing are the processes, the understanding, the reality that a business is more than loving what you do. Partnering with startups to offer guidance and understanding, gives the startup a better chance and it can offer insight and innovative ideas to the established company.
None of these suggestions cost a lot of money. None require extensive training. All leave the people involved feeling good – about themselves, about their work, and about the future.
Are you feeling good, yet?
Yvonne DiVita, President of Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC: Books, Blogs and Beyond, is focused on consulting with businesses on how to effectively use new media tools. She blogs at LipSticking, with a focus on the women’s market.