Many companies have not waited for the current pandemic to place their employees at the heart of their concerns. Last August, the initiative, seen from France, could leave you speechless: 181 CEOs of brands representing almost 30% of the total market capitalization of the United States signed an open letter entitled “Declaration on the raison d'être of the company”. The principle was clear: stakeholders are essential, and leaders would commit to each of them to ensure the future success of the company, the community and the country.
In this context, far from the world of bisounours in which it is sometimes confined, the Great Place to Work movement takes on a new meaning and could augur a fundamental change in the way the company registers its action with its employees as in the society.
Giving meaning to your job: the first reason for being businesses
In France, too, the subject is understood: at the heart of the Pacte law, the raison d'être has established itself as the main asset of companies to create shared value. However, the dissemination and appropriation of a vision, like the achievement of a goal, is only possible in the company through an appropriate culture. This is the whole point: how to create the right culture in the workplace?
Obviously, it is first of all a question of commitment from top management as well as employees. But also of trust: the company must have exemplary leaders who are trusted and who are worthy of it. It also requires a set of core values, a common language. It would even be the key to economic performance. According to a study by Deloitte, establishing a truly distinct corporate culture is considered important for the success of the company by 94% of executives and 88% of employees.
But to surpass themselves and better serve their customers, employees must above all feel respected and valued, know that what they do is important and that they can have an impact. Exactly the opposite of the “Useless Jobs” theorized by anthropologist David Graeber, who considers them the evil of the century of the working world. In France, they affect almost one in five employees. We understand better the urgency of explaining a raison d'être and of building a corporate culture that gives meaning to work.
Know yourself: business at the school of philosophy
The challenge is all the more important as an employee's experience is no longer shaped as in the past by his close colleagues, the microcosm of his office or his department: most of us are now part of teams spread all over the world, and our way of working has evolved considerably in the digital age. Having a culture based on a set of common values sets a course for the company, brings people together and acts as a sort of contract between employees, so that everyone understands what they can expect from others. And the best way to build trust with your customers is to prove that you really are who you claim to be.
This therefore presupposes for the company to know itself. This identity is precisely the cornerstone of a good corporate culture. It cannot be decreed from above: getting to know each other requires a lot of listening and humility. For executives this means spending considerable time internally on these cultural issues. Knowing how to mobilize, detaching oneself from the imperatives of business to take that time, is crucial, in particular to support or bring out new talents: everyone is in a quest for meaning at work and wants to be an actor in their development.
Become who you are
From the values chanted on the glossy of the annual reports of large groups, to the orders of the Chief Happiness Officers of start-ups, the notion of Great Place to Work is sometimes viewed with cynicism in France. And yet, building a business where life is good is a formidable and demanding ambition. It requires transforming its habits, its processes and its organization.
Learn to give feedback, empower managers, agree to set up an almost complete transparency on the state of the organization, know how to take the pulse of teams, encourage initiatives and encourage people to be themselves …
Having the courage to reconcile employee well-being, innovation and profitability means not compromising on a clear set of corporate values.
Only by committing to respecting these values, trying to embody them on a daily basis, especially in the eyes of its customers and each stakeholder, who we become the company we really want to be. A company that keeps its promises, which creates value not only for its shareholders and employees, but also for society as a whole.
Jérôme Froment-Curtil, CEO of Workday France
Expert opinions are published under the sole responsibility of their authors and do not engage the editorial staff of L'Usine Nouvelle.