How to use vision to energise employee engagement

7 August, 2019
Employee engagement

Connecting emotions, logic and vision

Stephenson didn’t build the rocket without vision. The internet wasn’t developed without vision. Man didn’t reach the moon without vision. To grow and prosper, we need dreams and aspirations. For organisations to grow and prosper, employee engagement with the vision is crucial.


Vision connects hearts and minds

One of the best definitions of employee engagement that we have come across is that it is a “positive, energised state of mind that stems from both a cognitive and an emotional investment of personal energy that is focused on transforming a work task, a team goal, and/or an organisation outcome into a meaningful business objective” (Talent Map, 2017).

What this really means is that people consciously or subconsciously ask themselves two questions. The first is emotional – do they want to achieve their professional goals with a specific employer? The second is logical – do they have the skills and experience to do a good job and advance their career with that employer?

Just as when consumers make buying decisions, 80% of the decision is based upon emotions. It is then confirmed by the application of logic. Employee engagement relies on an organisation’s ability to appeal first to the hearts of their employees, and then to their minds. This is achieved by having a vision that resonates with your employees. In short, people want to feel that their work is meaningful and provides value.


Without vision, employee engagement has no direction

For employees to engage with a vision, the vision needs to tell them where they are heading to. When they are provided with a destination, and that destination falls into line with their own values and beliefs, they become motivated to help achieve that vision via milestones and smaller goals. Yet empirical evidence shows that more than half of UK employees don’t know what their company’s vision is. A 2018 survey of 2,000 employees by Rungway found that 52% couldn’t recall their company’s vision. A 2016 Gallup report, ‘How Millennials Want to Work and Live’, found that only 40% of millennial employees in the United States felt strongly connected to their employer’s vision.

The disconnect between an employer’s vision and the employees’ understanding of that vision undermines employee engagement. The result is that productivity falters, employee absence rises and employee retention rates fall.


Three tactics to make vision meaningful and memorable

Vision must be clearly defined and understandable. It must be easy to remember and apply. It should inspire belief and provide a signposted direction for all. Consider these examples:

  • IKEA – To create a better everyday life for people
  • Microsoft – A computer on every desk and in every home
  • Alzheimer’s Association – A world without Alzheimer’s
  • Amazon – To be the world’s most customer-centric company

Every one of these vision statements is concise and inspiring. They help employees understand the big picture of their organisation, providing a meaningful direction for employees to follow. Here are three tactics to help you make your vision meaningful and memorable.


1. Link goals to the vision

Linking ongoing team and individual goals to vision is imperative to promote employee’s engagement with it. This frames the shared vision as an objective that is relevant in the daily workplace tasks and activities. Vision becomes integral to organisational culture, with employees recognised for behaviours that feed into accomplishment of personal and team goals.


2. Keep the vision visible always

An organisation’s vision should be in focus always. It should be referred to as often as possible in regular communications such as team meetings, one-to-ones, on the organisation’s internal communications. This is only possible if the vision is framed concisely. It must be memorable and relatable. All the examples above fit this need. They are short and simple, yet have a clear meaning to which employees (and customers) can relate. Disney’s employees have a deep desire to make people happy. Students at Harvard do believe that they will become leaders who make a difference to the world.


3. Create consistency of vision with storytelling

Even when vision is framed in short, concise terms, there may still be confusion as to its real meaning. For example, desiring a world with no conflict sounds like a vision that is easy to understand – but what is conflict? Is it debate, arguments, disagreements or war?

An organisation’s vision is more powerful when that vision has a common meaning. The only way this can be achieved is by communicating it with consistency. This requires a communication strategy which allows people to translate meaning and develop an aligned understanding of vision. This cannot be achieved without a clearly defined communication strategy.

Storytelling techniques have been used since the birth of man to ensure messages are communicated with consistency. Stories are shared to explain meaning, shaping beliefs and values, and humanising complex ideas. Used constructively, stories can help people identify with an organisation’s objectives and develop a roadmap to the achievement of a single shared vision.


Ensure your employees know their direction with a vision for employee engagement

Your vision statement has the power to be a tool that unifies your employees in the desire to achieve a shared goal that resonates with individual and team values and beliefs. It should provide employees with meaning, helping them to realise why their contribution matters. It is this emotional connection that catalyses employee engagement.

The aim is that employees will be motivated to go the extra mile. Your vision statement is an opportunity to develop a connection among your employees, working toward shared goals and all pulling in the same direction. To ignite the energising effect of your vision, it must describe where you want to go and enable all employees to become an integral part of your organisation’s big picture.

In our next article, we examine how to create a vision statement for change.

To find out how the Learning Map could help you improve your organisation’s effectiveness in organisational change management, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)

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