Superior employee engagement is intentional and deliberate, not accidental. Few companies apply the time and attention required to create an environment in which the employee experience is consistent throughout the organization. Yet superior employee experience is what drives innovation and productivity, ultimately resulting in a better customer experience. Coca-Cola is one of those companies that has mastered it.
I just returned from spending two days at the Coca-Cola Company headquarters in Atlanta. I was a speaker at the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) Connect16 event hosted there. What impressed me most about Coca-Cola was the consistency of the engagement and attentiveness of the employees. Every one of them exuded an authentic feeling of warmth, pride, and commitment to their respective roles in the company. None of that happens by accident.
During the two-day event, I interacted with various employees from many departments and levels. I met teams of security personnel, food service staff, the IT expert who immediately came to my aid and connected my presentation when I could not, help desk ambassadors, Coca-Cola executives that I met and those I learned about, gift shop staff, a kind shuttle bus driver who highly recommended I get off at a safer stop, and the facilities worker on her way home who offered to guide me to the train I needed to take to get to the airport.
How, then, does a company achieve superior employee engagement?
They communicate authentically, often, and with purpose. Coca-Cola has 130,000 employees in 200 countries, and they communicate via a world-class news and information internal portal that is sensitive to the languages and cultures of their diverse workforce. It is no easy task to make a behemoth organization seem warm, inclusive, and fun, yet they continually try to improve and engage across all their brands.
Executives are involved and visible, clearly taking a top-down philosophy to culture. Based on my limited observations, senior executives engage with employees at internal events, solicit feedback, and lead by example. Several videos of executives demonstrated their love of the brand, product, and relationship with customers.
The leadership demonstrates by example their value of client relationships and service. More than once I heard or saw video of senior leaders from the Coca-Cola family of brands explaining that they take their client-partner relationships very seriously and work to maintain them at the highest level. Also noteworthy: even a giant like Coca-Cola values providing outstanding service to their equally large clients and partners.
They create an environment that is a catalyst for ideas and inspiration. They provide everything employees could need on campus, including a credit union, physician, dry cleaner, gym facilities, multiple cafeterias, stores, and probably more I did not see. There are alcoves for brainstorming scattered around the campus, and inspirational quotes and historical branding accent the facilities.
The facilities team went far beyond the paint-and-carpet refresh that most companies complete. They designed the space with great intention for the experience and results it would generate.
It is important to remember that engaged employees are far more than happy or satisfied. They embrace the mission and message of their company and want to be a part of its success. They feel valued. As a result, they innovate, participate, solve, improve and care – all of which drives a better customer experience, client retention, brand loyalty and image. Creating a consistently positive employee experience is a challenge in any size company. But if a worldwide, leading, diverse company such as Coca-Cola can set the intention and take deliberate steps to succeed at an employee engagement level, we can learn from their example.
Originally published on Business 2 Community.