An employer’s guide to establishing or maintaining profitable traditions
In today’s business world an interesting anomaly is occurring. Statistics show that 69% of all American employees are basically disengaged—uninterested, disconnected and simply going through the motions of the job. Traditions in the workplace (activities or programs that are people-centered, and non-essential to daily operations) are an effective tool for getting them engaged and plugged back in. Yet while workplace traditions are needed more than ever, they are being largely overlooked as companies scramble to just keep the trains running on time amidst the rapid-fire marketplace and technological changes.
This is where the issue of leadership quickly rises to the surface. The “traditional” boss is the one that sees the value in the non-essential workplace traditions. He or she is a visionary, at least to the point of recognizing that there’s more to the bottom line than today’s profit and loss statement, and places importance in things like community outreach, company picnics and employee contributions to the monthly newsletter.
One of the best examples of a highly effective company tradition takes place within the Walt Disney Company. Certain employees that have made significant artistic contributions (AKA Disney “Legends”) have their names painted on the windows of Main Street, USA in the various Disney parks around the world. While it may seem like a rather small thing, the tradition begun by Walt Disney is still intact today, and is one of the most coveted honors bestowed by the organization. This non-essential activity is a well-known rallying point that engages employees—and costs the company next to nothing.
A leader sets the stage and can be a powerful force in creating a positive work environment. Effective leaders will always be on the lookout for traditions that will positively affect the workforce, be approachable and willing to implement ideas that come from the bottom up, and as mentioned in Foresight: Finding Your Footing In A Fast Forward World, always consider the effect on employee morale before pulling the plug on any activity or program.