How to Turn Your Company into the Next Amazon

BY Kathy Crosett
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Gallup Poll regularly interviews about 1,500 employed adults regarding work attitudes. Over the past couple of years, the percentage of these adults who feel engaged, enthusiastic and committed about their jobs and their companies has never risen above 36%. These low numbers add up to big trouble. A new Korn Ferry survey find that a significant majority of employees want their work and their company to have meaning and  purpose. Leaders who figure out how to engage their employees in a mission, the way Jeff Bezos has done with his commitment to delighting customers, succeed.  Here’s what you can do to motivate your employees.

You may be obsessing about whether you’re paying your employees enough but it turns out only 3% of folks link their personal performance to this benefit.  Your team members spend 1/​3 of all their time on the job and 70% want to know they are making a difference. Yet, over half believe their leadership is primarily focused on the bottom line and not the benefit the company is delivering to customers and the wider world.

Executives who spoke with Korn Ferry largely agree that when managers take the time to articulate an organization’s mission to employees, they always see an increase in productivity. Recently formed companies like Amazon, which emphasize their mission as much as they emphasize their line of business, have quickly succeeded. Korn Ferry Global Consumer Market Principal, Elaine Dinos, points out, “…there is an upsurge of founder-​run companies with clarity of purpose, especially in the consumer sector. Purpose is the lens for their business practices which leads to their rapid success — positive growth, profitability, and impact on the world.”

The Korn Ferry survey speaks to the need for you to regularly articulate the mission of your company. But, you need to go beyond that and live and breathe your mission. When you engage with employees at any level, talk about how what they are doing on a day-​to-​day basis is supporting the mission and helping the company succeed. Remember to emphasize any social causes you have championed as well.

Korn Ferry executives point out that leaders cannot just restate mission at an annual meeting and then go on to focus on profitability and day-​to-​day management. Team members are looking to leaders to set the tone for an organization. Regardless of what you think about how Bezos runs his company, it's clear his commitment to delighting customers works throughout the Amazon organization and has led to committed employees and organizational success.