• Derrek Ehrlich

Focus on fulfillment

Why employee fulfillment should be the top priority for every business

True Intention

Humans have a paradoxical mind that really loves to rationalize things. Our mind can come up with unlimited reasons, perspectives, and excuses as to why the world is the way that it is. And the business world doesn’t get a free pass from this fundamental human folly. For example, it is common that when a business wants to make cultural changes, such as increasing #employeehappiness, what it really wants is employees to produce more.

This isn’t to say that there are not a number of people that genuinely care about the happiness of the employees, but the issue here is that some actions will likely be taken that don’t impact happiness, but rather productivity. People are smart and understand when words are disingenuous or manipulative. They understand when these initiatives are not genuinely intended for them, but rather some ulterior purpose.

That may sound a little harsh. I realize that no leader wakes up in the morning thinking, "How can I make my employees' lives miserable?" Regardless, something is lost in translation here, and that something can be summarized by #intention. True intention will always bubble to the surface. A leader may say they want employees to be happy, so they give recognition to top performers with the hope that:

  • People will see the rewards received by those top performers

  • People will then work harder to try to get those rewards themselves

  • This will all lead to the business producing more, not the employee being happy

Even if this leader does genuinely want their employees to be happy, is it the true intention of an initiative? And if so, is it the true intention of the business at large (i.e. the group sponsoring the initiative)?

Ultimately, true intention boils down to the business’s priorities. The higher the priority, the likelier that’s the intention of any initiative or action.

Top Priority

So, if a business wants to show the true intention that it cares for its employees, while maintaining its productivity, what should the top priority be?

Earlier I pointed out how the outcomes of cultural initiatives generally appear as the business taking actions that benefit itself over its employees. And how do employees respond? They take actions that benefit themselves over the business—they self-preserve.

Theoretically, the literal role and function of every single employee is to benefit the business. But how is the gap from real #selfpreservation to theoretical #businesspreservation bridged? How do you get people to prioritize the needs of the business over their own? Put simply, the business needs to genuinely prioritize the needs of its employees. If employee needs are prioritized, that frees them up to focus on the group and help meet its needs. The needs of any employee can be boiled down to one word: #fulfillment.

To give an example scenario, imagine a salesperson. Of course, this person’s role is to make sales to generate revenue for the business. Theoretically, this salesperson would only make decisions that led to generating the most possible revenue for the business. But let’s assume that the salesperson is in a state of self-preservations due to employment insecurity, opportunism, or politics.

In the short-term, this person may be able to hit sales goals, but are they hitting those goals in an honest and sustainable manner? Or are they covering up mistakes, going behind the backs of other salespeople, and pressuring customers to make decisions that aren’t really in their best interest? These problems continue to magnify as we move into long-term considerations, assuming this person does not find a job elsewhere.

Mutual Benefit

When you think of the ideal employee, how would you describe them? You'll probably think of words like #engaged, driven, proactive, team player, collaborative, inquisitive, leader, creative, innovative, etc.

Now answer me this: When was the last time you met a truly fulfilled individual that was lazy, disengaged, reactive, individualistic and apathetic? I would bet that has never happened. Fulfilled people are inherently passionate people and epitomize the #idealemployee. Fulfilled people are exactly the type of people you want everywhere in your organization, and they embody every characteristic that would be responsible for the outcomes you want.

The mutual benefit is obvious. It's the ultimate symbiotic relationship. When the group takes care of the individual, the individual takes care of the group. Ask #PhilJackson.

Going back to the salesperson example, let’s imagine that the needs of this person are fulfilled by the business. Now we are dealing with a fulfilled salesperson. Not only would they highlight mistakes so that they can be fixed, they would not go behind the backs of other salespeople and would help sell to customers based on their best interests rather than meeting a quota. Plus they would more likely enjoy their job and not quit.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From there, they would likely start sharing sales struggles and successes with other salespeople, receiving and giving help, ultimately leading to more overall sales for the company. They would listen to the customer better and care about communicating customer needs to engineers so that the product/service could be improved. Choosing between having an unfulfilled and fulfilled employee, the more desirable option could not be more obvious.

Laser Focus

Focus goes hand-in-hand with progress. Any business goals you've achieved likely came through focus, and achieving an incredible workplace culture is no different. Employee fulfillment needs to be the top priority for every business. So let's focus on goals and outcomes that end in fulfillment and remove the clutter. Remove the distractions around motivation, recognition, rewards and production. Removing the clutter around your intention for fulfilled employees makes priority simple and allows progress to come easier.

It's important to ask individuals what fulfillment means to them, as it is a very personal thing. With that said, change doesn't happen instantly, and earning trust takes time. Your employees will need to trust that their fulfillment is a genuine priority before they fully open up. Attempt change, advertise what is being done, and keep the communication loop open. It's completely fine to make mistakes if the intention was in the right place. As with every new skill, we need to stumble before we walk, and walk before we run.

For more information on how OneHive helps ingite professional passion for employees, take a look at our program Elevate Workplace Culture. If you have questions or want to talk about what a culture of fulfillment looks like on your team, schedule a consultation with us. It does not matter how big your team is, what industry it's in or how good or bad the culture currently is.

OneHive's vision is:

"To ignite every person's professional passion ​so that businesses can unify, innovate, and succeed in a rapidly changing world."

To find more about our vision and what we stand for, look here.

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