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August 28, 2018

Motivating Internal Stakeholders Using Action, Not Just Words

Would you say that even the smallest line items on your P&L communicate your company values and purpose to your employees, customers and other internal and external stakeholders?
In business, the small, everyday practices communicate the brand’s values to consumers and internal stakeholders alike. The age-old adage is true—actions speak louder than words.
Your business might tout a dedication to making the world better though sustainable initiatives, environmentally mindful production, shipping, packaging and output practices or generous personal care policies and benefits. Whatever it may be, customers and internal stakeholders will watch your actions to ensure they line up with well recited core values.
In the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, it is clear that businesses are not walking the talk in the eyes of their Millennial and GenZ employees.  A key insight from the survey noted,
While young workers believe that business should consider stakeholder interests as well as profits, their experience is of employers prioritizing the bottom line above workers, society, and the environment. Only a minority of respondents now believe corporations behave ethically (48 percent versus 65 percent last year) and business leaders are committed to helping improve society (47 percent versus 62 percent). Three-quarters of respondents now see businesses around the world focusing on their own agendas rather than considering the wider society (compared with 59 percent a year ago), and nearly two-thirds say companies have no ambition beyond wanting to make money, up from 50 percent. Four in 10 respondents actually say business leaders are having a negative impact on the world.
- 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Studies like the Deloitte Millennial Survey show a clear opportunity. Companies with a distinct purpose that extends beyond pure profitability have higher retention rates, and employees are more fulfilled. This new breed of employee seeks companies with passion and purpose that drive action—not simply checking the box in an annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report in the section about the charities supported by the company. Authentic commitments in the core business model that sincerely make the world a better place help inspire employees. This creates more productive employees who stay longer and are less prone to burnout.
Communicating sustainability and overarching purpose to internal stakeholders, employees and customers is not easy. Naturally, people are apt to use a lot of words to vision cast and gain buy in around the ideas their brand stands for most. However, a more powerful way to show a brand’s commitment to creating a positive change in the world is by using fewer words and more personal, daily actions. These demonstrative habits shape the culture and company for the long term. Our testimony of change needs to be inherently personal to reach through the do-good buzz of this day and age.
Your employees will have a more personal connection to your brand’s commitment to helping others through your everyday company spending, for example. When your staff knows that the coffee they drink daily funds children in Guatemala to be the first generation in their family to attend college, they can see your commitment to helping others through your simple purchasing practices.
This thoughtfully designed beverage program that puts the farmer at the forefront can communicate a brand’s values and mission in a more tangible way than marketing or policies ever could.
Do your simple purchasing habits, like a conscious beverage program, daily demonstrate your purpose and passion for a better world? Is your business profitable AND creating a positive change in society? Does what you serve in your restaurant demonstrate the impact you want to have in the world? If you can’t say “yes” to these questions, then you are missing an incredible opportunity to win the hearts of your most important asset—your employees!
Consider the small items in your P&L that can make a big difference, today.

Kenneth Lander is the co-founder and chief sustainability officer at Thrive Farmers International
. Thrive Farmers was founded in 2011 to transform the coffee industry by connecting farmers to consumers through a new supply chain. To learn more about Thrive, visit their website or follow them on Twitter at @ThriveFarmers.
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