January 9, 2023

While employees have increasingly high expectations of their professional life and their company, humanist companies are developing that place the human and the common good at the heart of their strategy. These companies build a climate of trust, benevolence, cooperation and appreciation of the employee, his skills and his work. The company is no longer a sum of individuals, but a community.

Employees' expectations today go beyond the mere financial compensation for the time they devote to the employer. According to the study "Talents: what they expect from their job" (Ipsos 2021, Institut Montaigne), the atmosphere and well-being at work are the second most important criteria for choosing a job for students of the grandes écoles, and 63% of young people are ready to take a more precarious position for a meaningful job.

On the recruitment side for companies, 2022 was a difficult year: not enough candidates and unsuitable profiles. The challenge for companies lies in retaining their existing employees and attracting demanding talent who are looking for a company that is aligned with their values.

This leads to the search for new ways of organizing and managing, themes that are at the heart of the Future of Work's reflections and of our Corporate Culture podcast.

The community, to reconcile meaning and performance

Community is defined as a social group characterized by living together, having common assets, interests and a common purpose. In a company, it translates into the sharing of common interests, history, values and goals of the company. The members of the community get a sense of belonging and involvement that contributes to improving motivation, collaboration and productivity within the company.

Putting people at the heart of the strategy

In a humanist company, the essential goal is the common good, which requires the creation of a climate of trust, sharing and benevolence. This is what Peter Drucker develops in The Spirit of Performance. He describes the need for leaders to demonstrate a high level of moral and ethical integrity, to empower employees, to cultivate their well-being and to serve a broader purpose than their obligations to shareholders. The challenge? To focus first and foremost on what is beneficial to the individual. This will benefit the whole company.

  • First, trust. Create good relays in the field to understand uses and needs, facilitate exchanges, simplify information sharing and best practices internally.
  • Secondly, learning. Employees are looking for fulfillment in their professional lives. The provision of enriching content, the possibility of learning outside of existing silos and the sharing of experience are all necessary to unite and involve teams.
  • Finally, valuing. An invested employee is an employee who is valued, through his or her initiatives or those of the group. This enhancement requires the visibility of internal players and the necessary cross-functional communication, in a place of trust and learning.

"Alone we go faster, together we go further"

Considering the employee as a human being rather than a worker has made Lululemon (manufacturer of technical clothing for sports) the leader in onboarding. After the first year, its employees are twice as committed as the industry average.

At Cisco, listening is at the heart of the culture. That's why weekly one-on-one interviews are built around three questions: what did they like or dislike about the previous week, what are their priorities for the new week, and how can we help them? Cisco conducts more than 3 million such interviews a year. Team leaders who conduct them weekly boost team member engagement by 77%, and voluntary member turnover dropped by 67% in the six months following the implementation of these interviews.

Interviewed in the podcast Culture d'entreprise, the French company Octo Technology was built according to the precepts of Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright in Tribal Leadership. Octo Technology is "a tribe of tribes". Each tribe gathers employees around their expertise or common interests. Smaller groups, therefore, strengthen the sense of belonging, stimulate intrapreneurship and retain talent in search of meaning. According to Marcus Buckingham in Love + Work, workers who have a sense of belonging to a team are 2.7 times more engaged in their work, three times more resilient and twice as likely to mention a strong sense of belonging to their organization.

How to build your community in a realistic way?

Once the benefits of making your company a community or a community of communities have been established, the next step is to determine how to do it. This type of business requires a clear strategy, executed implementation and ongoing support from management.

The essential elements

The first step is to create a physical or digital space where employees can meet, share and collaborate. This can be a coworking space, an online forum or a discussion group on social networks.

It is important to encourage employee engagement in this space by providing opportunities for them to participate in community activities, such as workshops, wellness events or volunteer projects.

Community building starts at the micro level: the leader first focuses on a core group of followers. Together, they decide on common goals: writing a manifesto, for example, establishing the means of internal communication, and setting dates for exchange and progress. Furthermore, the community is based on trust. It must be self-organizing, free of the leader's gaze (the community can, for example, work on a common project outside the hierarchical and managerial frameworks).

Finally, it is important to ensure that this community transformation is part of an overall business strategy and is supported by management. This can include putting in place policies and programs to facilitate employee participation in the community, as well as measures to assess the impact of the transformation on business performance.

Understand the community so that you don't neglect the brakes

Transforming your company into a community requires understanding the contours of the community. In addition to what unites (history, values, interests and common goals), the community is based on a heterogeneous set of individuals. In addition to those who created the community, there is usually a facilitator. He or she organizes, drives the dynamics and eventually plays the role of moderator. The other active members interact, share information and communicate.

But beware: a community cannot be decreed. It is built over time. Some members initially adopt an attitude of reserve, i.e. they position themselves as "observers" to learn about the functioning of the community, the norms and the attitude of the other members. These people may one day participate in the life of the community. Others will remain consumers and not actors of information. One way to encourage employees to get involved in the community is to convince them of its benefits for their professional performance and that of the company.

To the virtues of cooperation, Jacques Lecomte, author of the book Les entreprises humanisteswarns of the danger of falling into the trap of "group think". The purpose of community is to involve employees in the organization and development of the company. However, "groupthink" is a phenomenon that leads to self-censorship, not because of a lack of trust, but because of loyalty to the group and pressure for uniformity. "When everyone strives to maintain the unity and unanimity of the group by avoiding any conflict that could harm it, the quality of decision-making decreases" explains Jacques Lecomte. It is therefore necessary toinstitutionalize a system of benevolent criticism of collective decisions.

In conclusion

Transforming the company into a community requires an understanding of the benefits, the consequences, but above all the obstacles. The community needs toorganize the speeches, to communicate to the different internal audiences and to highlight and motivate its ambassadors. The native application animates the community by promoting a multitude of content: activities, work, meetings, current projects and portraits; and develops engaging and consumable content on the move.

It is not a question of installing an additional digital sharing tool, but ofdevoting vision, energy and value to it in order to create an enriching community of commitment, carried by all employees, managers and leaders.

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