It may be a bit uncommon for people in strategy to talk about employee engagement and human resources topics. This is because strategy has generally busied itself with models of growth and not so much with people. Allow me to try and make the link.

More and more successful companies, like ING (“Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business”), and Kellogg food (“Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive”)1 come up with purpose statements.

Until recently, a purpose statement only existed in the Strategy textbooks. However, even a purpose statement is just a slogan, until it is implemented. This is caution number one. Secondly, even if well implemented a purpose statement makes the goal higher by taking the focus outward of the organization. In this scenario the organization operates to make money but at the same time serves a bigger purpose. So far, so good, this is motivational, no doubt. However, how does the purpose of the organization directly translate to the life goals of its employees. Does it fit their philosophy? Does it enhance their overall satisfaction of life, or is the job a source of late nights in the office, broken relationships and burnout? Is the purpose integrated in a coherent company culture?

For all these themes a company needs to create an overlaying strategy of meaning that provides a coherent approach that links strategy and operations, whereby it treats its people as humans. This helps people develop their emotional intelligence, relationship skills, coping mechanisms, that sharpens their minds and makes them more creative (and productive).

Now, lots of you are thinking this is Utopia. You’d say: “A business operates to serve its shareholders, maybe a bit to support a non-profit cause, for sure to serve its customers, because this is where the money comes from but definitely not to treat its employees as humans.” Probably you also think that salary and perks suffice and you don’t need to mother or be the psychotherapist for your employees.

See, it’s not about what you give people. We all have read the utility of salary increase decreases sharply after 50-60 thousand dollars a year. It’s more about how you treat your employees and what kind of working atmosphere you create. A lot has to do with the leadership skills, style and emotional intelligence of the people in managerial positions, and this can be trained and learned. The leadership style is the drum that gives the rhythm to the organization. It is also a strong component of corporate culture.

In a corporate culture, where people develop to the point they realize their potential, some will leave. But keep in mind, not everyone wants to run a business and not everyone wants to hop jobs. As a matter of fact, any change, is naturally rather undesired by people. If your employees are treated well, they will stay and will make your organization great.

Author: Zorina Dimitrova