One of the clearest demonstrations of how the workplace has evolved, especially in recent years, is the shift in why people go to work. In previous eras, individuals went to work solely for the security of a paycheck. This transactional work environment has expanded and morphed into a transformational environment – where people come to work for a paycheck and to find meaning and purpose in what they do. 

This is why it is more important than ever for organizations to create and uphold meaningful management principles:

  • Mission (what we do)
  • Vision (where we are headed, what we want to become)
  • Core values (what we honor and how we behave)

The science of workplace attachment demonstrates the importance of finding key points where employees connect with work – where what’s known as emotional velcro is formed. Evidence shows that a company’s mission, vision, and core values are where the hooks and loops of that velcro are often forged.

While a lot of organizations have these key components of connection, they either lack a compelling narrative or end up as words left stagnant on a bulletin board or webpage. The majority of today’s workforce is made up of employees who are seeking work that is fulfilling and has a mission, purpose, and value set that they can align with and make their own. Here are some best practices for creating and communicating your organization’s guiding principles to build emotional velcro and nurture long-term engagement:

Clearly define your mission.

As a leader, it’s imperative to establish and reiterate a clearly articulated mission for your organization. When employees understand (and believe in) what drives the direction of your company, it serves as a compass that guides their decision-making and performance. 

Collaborate with your team to establish a shared vision.

Wherever possible, include employees in conversations that shape the future of your company. This level of inclusion dramatically increases employees’ buy-in and commitment to seeing that vision come to fruition over the long-term. When drafting or modifying your vision, be specific to inspire more action. For example, “We want to expand our market to our three adjoining states, reaching 50 million more potential customers and saving thousands of lives every year,” can motivate and inspire employees to engage more thoroughly in that effort. 

Articulate how employee contributions align with the mission and vision.

It is typically the person in the most immediate supervisory role who has the greatest opportunity to send regular messages to staff members around how their work is in alignment with the company’s mission, vision, and values. This type of recognition not only deepens engagement, it has neurological benefits as well, showing team members they are noticed and valued. It also reinforces the behaviors you want to see more of – for example, “Your contributions in our team meeting this morning were a perfect example of living our “Innovation” core value. Thank you for bringing in such valuable new perspectives that are really going to take us to the next level.”

Discuss and assess these principles on a regular basis.

When you have ongoing conversations about your mission, vision, and values, it keeps them top of mind for employees. Periodically evaluate the language and tone of these culture-focused components to determine if changes need to be made in order to meet evolving needs or accommodate new goals.

Make it a priority to keep a strong focus on defining and upholding the mission, vision, and values of your organization. These practices create the type of work environment where employees feel connected to and fulfilled by what they do in your company.

Key Takeaways:

  • Employees’ top priority is no longer job security and building tenure. Instead, they want to find work that has meaning, purpose, and a value set that is similar to their own.
  • When you establish a clear and shared mission for your organization, it contributes to the emotional velcro that binds people to their work.
  • Clearly define your vision, and allow your team members to take part in creating or reviewing that vision regularly. This helps them to feel committed and driven to doing their best work.

Referenced resources:

Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience That Drives High-Performance Cultures, Don Rheem, ForbesBooks.

Collaboration and Team Science: From Theory to Practice, L. Michelle Bennett and Howard Gadlin, Journal of Investigative Medicine.

Would you like more tips on communicating effectively with your employees? Join the Manager Resource Center, our training platform dedicated to helping leaders thrive in their roles. Through a variety of articles, videos, tools, and additional resources, the Manager Resource Center equips you not only to develop high-performance teams, but to sustain your own leadership journey for a long-lasting impact.