Empower Employee Loyalty with Passion Projects

The strength of that bridge will grow over time and everyone will benefit.

Employee moral has taken a devastating blow in recent years due to drastic changes in our economic outlook. Even when employed, hot button topics such as hourly rates and benefit packages are forced into top of mind and can heavily affect productivity. How can we, as business owners, ensure that our employees are happy and remain loyal to our brand?

Share, Grow and Learn Together

It’s important that we move away from the mindset of a ladder system in business. Where new employees are viewed as less valuable than management from day one. In today’s society, where new hires are typically overqualified, that process of earning empowerment could quickly dissolve any true job security. Not only from a business perspective but from an individual’s as well. Help them transition smoothly from where they are and where they want to be. The strength of that bridge will grow over time and everyone will benefit. That bridge may even support you one day.

That being said, it is crucial that both company and employee work toward a shared experience as well. Your end goals will fork at some point in the road but even short term can be defined in years. Empower them with the knowledge you have learned through first hand experience. Make them better by sharing your mistakes. It will help your company as you are only as good as the team you surround yourself with. Make sure that the best of them want to stay with your company.

Give them freedom to grow and excel in their field.

Providing employees with a passion project they can pilot will help them feel invested in the company. Every employee should have this opportunity regardless of job title, pay scale or length with the company. However, the level of freedom they are given can be directly related to previous success. This approach encourages strong work ethic and establishes commitment to your brand. A reward system in place for those that want to take advantage of it.

The employee draws the blueprint and builds the house. You simply invest the time and provide support.

Staging an open house for co-workers and guests to showcase the passion projects could become a regular event. Attendees could vote anonymously on different categories like more traditional award shows. Grand prize could be additional vacation days, submission of the project for national awards or an engraved plaque. The business may also submit a light-hearted press release to local news channels and share the story on social networking sites.

Not only does this build an adequate stage for employees it also suggests a deadline for their project. Although they are piloting these initiatives your goal as a company is to encourage growth. Not a means to pass the time. Give them freedom to grow and excel in their field. By not allowing this “free time” you potentially negate the ability to keep current on trends, technologies and strategy. What works well today may not be relevant tomorrow. Sheltering your employee from growth does not breed loyalty.

The level of pride, trust and loyalty you build with this employee empowerment will create a sense of allure that will not only keep current employees but to attract high quality co-workers as well.

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5 Comments

  1. Mark AndersonReplyApril 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm 

    A great example of this in action is at Google, where Gmail, Google News, Orkut, and AdSense all originated from their much ballyhooed 20% time.

    • Joshua GarityReplyApril 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm 

      Exactly. Providing employees that time to stretch their ambitious brain power and learn new techniques, perfect old ones, etc can become a huge asset to your company. Otherwise we become slaves to the system to some extent.

      We need to rise up and fight “the man”…oh wait…you are my supervisor…move along ;)

  2. Mike KangReplyMay 25, 2011 at 6:55 am 

    Why don’t more employers understand this? The biggest evolutionary step companies have taken in the past 15 years is causal work attire. Promoting individual projects says a lot about the faith a company has in its employees. Who knows? The receptionist may have the next big idea but as long as s/he is limited to his/her job duties, the company will never find out. It’s a lose/lose situation IMO.

    Mike

    • Dan PolleyReplyAugust 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm 

      Yes, I can’t understand why some management doesn’t see this. If you don’t sustain passion in your employees, they won’t be as effective. Allowing them to persue their passions and ideas can offer much bigger rewards.

      • Joshua GarityReplyAugust 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm 

        I think the prospect if giving your employees freedom scares a lot of companies. You are giving them time to grow and improve. Essentially investing in them. But what’s to stop them from leaving afterward? I think that’s the mindset right now. Instead of a let’s give them everything so when they do reach their genesis we have them connected to us through this long, mutually beneficial, relationship type of mindset.

        It’s hard to push in either direction. So many are just completely passive and let people come and go.

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