by S. Chris Edmonds | January 10, 2017
How engaged are employees in your workplace? Do leaders and team members treat each other with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction, no matter what? Are customers treated with that same degree of authentic care?

If not, you're leaving money on the table. 

The state of employee engagement isn't pretty. Gallup's daily engagement data shows that only 33 percent of U.S. workers are actively engaged at work. TinyHR's 2014 employee engagement and organizational culture report found that only 21 percent of employees feel strongly valued at work.That means 79 percent of employees do not feel strongly valued at work. That's dismal.

We can do better. The key to consistent employee engagement is the creation of a purposeful, positive, productive work culture.

Deloitte's 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report found that "few factors contribute more to business success than culture." This research found that 87 percent of business leaders believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage. Fifty-four percent believe culture is "very important."

Why don't leaders make culture a greater priority? They don't know how. They've never been asked to manage culture. Deloitte's study found that only 28 percent of respondents believe they understand their current culture well. Only 19 percent believe they have the "right" culture!

Yet in 99 percent of organizations around the globe, leaders spend more time on processes and results than they do on their work culture, even though culture drives everything that happens in their organization -- good or bad.

The pathway to a purposeful, positive, productive work culture is to make values -- how people treat each other -- as important as results. Creating the foundation of a healthy work culture, then maintaining it every day, is a lot of work. But the payoff is well worth the effort.

By following the right steps, my clients have consistently enjoyed 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 35 percent gains in results and profits -- all within 18 months of intentional culture refinement.

There are three steps leaders must take to create a purposeful, positive, productive culture: define, align, and refine.

Leaders define their desired culture through an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal document that specifies your organization's servant purpose, its values and behaviors, its strategies, and its goals.

Most organizations have some form of strategies and goals in place. Accountability for performance may widely vary, but most have specific performance strategies and defined goals. Most organizations don't have a formalized, present day "reason for being" beyond making money. A servant purpose formalizes what your organization does, for whom, and "to what end." An effective servant purpose clearly describes how your product or service improves your customers' quality of life.

Values are the principles that will ensure everyone is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction across your business. To make values as important as results, those values must be observable, tangible, and measurable -- just like your performance metrics.

Your organization may already have values defined. However, few organizations take the steps required to clearly define values in behavioral terms, which clearly outlines how "great citizens" of your company shall treat others.

The align stage is where leaders will spend the most time. Leaders must model valued behaviors and then invite employees to rate all leaders on how well they demonstrate those valued behaviors in daily interactions. That measures alignment to values, which helps leaders hold everyone in the organization accountable for modeling those behaviors every day.

When values are defined is such clear terms, players are much more likely to demonstrate those behaviors -- even more so when leaders themselves embrace these valued behaviors daily.

The refine stage happens every couple of years. Your organization's servant purpose and values won't need refinement. Valued behaviors, strategies, and goals will likely benefit from refinement.

Want huge gains in engagement, service, and results? Don't leave your culture to chance.

S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group. He's one of Inc. Magazine's 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at SXSW 2015. Edmonds is the author of the Amazon best seller The Culture Engine and five other books. Chris' blog, podcasts, and videos are at Driving Results Through Culture. He tweets on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration at @scedmonds.