6. Je ne sais quoi
Although by no means a top 10 of corporate words it got me thinking.
1. Culture – I’m not at all surprised it’s at no.1. It certainly is for us at Woodreed where we’ve been banging on about the importance of organisational culture for ages – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”(Drucker) after all doesn’t it? In 2014 we published our own take on the topic from an organisational perspective – Culture the true story. When we talk about positive cultures, we mean cultures of engaged employees aligned with an organisation’s values – the watchwords for what drives, unites, motivates and differentiates one business from another. A positive culture isn’t just a nice to have. It’s a competitive advantage. It’s people that give you the edge. You can copy technology, you can copy process, you can copy the product. You can’t copy the culture. It truly is Number One.
2. Nostalgia – is there a hankering in the workplace for some long lost halcyon age? If so when was it? In our own ad industry Mad Men is of course a must watch show, but, putting aside the Martinis, do we really want to return to an age of such stratification, ingrained with sexism and racism, both in the workplace and society at large?
3. Insidious – the much propagated, and yet still widely held, perception that employee engagement is somehow pink and fluffy or doesn’t apply to us or is HR’s job, that soft skills don’t really matter in the work place. Keep holding on to this belief system and you’ll find yourself in the area of the 4th word of the year – legacy!
4. Legacy – legacy systems! Yes, hard to believe I know but in 2014 there are still corporate organisations still struggling along with Lotus Notes. But as businesses upgrade and invest in new technology it brings a raft of opportunities not just for employee engagement, collaboration and work life balance – good things – but also of course threats to the perfect life balance with a potential ‘always on’ culture (there’s that word again). Canadian employee engagement expert David Zinger talked recently instead of ‘work life infusion’ as one can in a healthy way infuse the other – of course new technology, used sensibly, can certainly play its part in making this happen.
5. Feminism – see number 2 above. But the job is by no means done – in the workplace or outside. Feminism seemed to get a resurgence in 2014 – both in the wider world with No More Page Three and the recognition of the great work of Laura Bates at the Everyday Sexism Project. And of course the efforts of so many in trying to get more women onto the boards of plcs. Despite research cited in Management Today which shows that Fortune 500 firms with three or more women on their boards outperformed those without any between 2004 and 2008, still the FTSE 250 has 29 all male boards – shameful.
6. Je ne sais quoi – Odd that this snuck into the list, apparently it appeared in a US TV ad and drove the lookups. But of course we’re all French now in January 2015 – yes free speech, honesty, transparency, standing up for what you believe in, fighting for what you believe in. As important in the workplace as outside. Je suis Charlie, Je suis Ahmed.
7. Innovation – the key to business success and an absolute must if an organisation is still going to be around in ten year’s time. But don’t think of innovation as just a job for leaders and futurologists – the most successful businesses are recognising the value of involving all their people in the process of innovation and using new technology, like that of Woodreed’s partner Challengera, to unlock and harness their knowledge and energy – and of course push the dial on employee engagement too.
8. Surreptitious – the way to approach employee engagement. Don’t set out to ‘do’ an engagement campaign, don’t tell your workforce you’re going to ‘engage’ them, don’t approach employee engagement as a project, something to be done and ticked off the ‘to do’ list. Approach it as just the way things are done around here – but do it with a clear strategy and plan and do it by unleashing the power of your brand to engage your audience. We know that the emotional engagement people have with brands is a far more powerful driver of behaviour than rational – as much as four times, so use that power to force behaviour change and create the right kind of positive and successful organisational culture you need to achieve your business goals. And if you don’t think you have a brand then stay behind and talk to me after class.
9. Autonomy – the great Dan Pink’s favourite three words. Autonomy, mastery and purpose being the three drivers of motivation – more powerful than monetary incentives, although try telling that to the banking community at bonus time! If this has passed you by what rock have you been hiding under for the last goodness knows how long?
10. Morbidity – the only certainty in life along with taxes (unless you’re Jimmy Carr, Starbucks or Vodafone of course). So as it’s the direction of travel we’re all heading in I for one want to have some fun along the way and that means working at something I’m absolutely passionate about – using brand to engage employees and make workplaces better places to be. We know that organisations who treat their employees like customers are more successful than those who don’t – end of.