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A Story on Culture & Engagement (Saving Babies' Lives!)

Aug 16 2023

By Kristen Ireland and Erin Mies, Co-Founders, People Spark Consulting


Early in my career I worked with a consultant, Bill, who focused on culture and engagement (yes, this was a topic even way back in the 1990’s). To this day, I still remember a story he shared with me about engagement.

Saving babies' lives!

Bill was working with a manufacturing company conducting job evaluations, talking to employees on the manufacturing line to understand their jobs. One day Bill was talking to employees responsible for quality. He asked the first shift employee what his job was. The employee responded that his job was to check the parts as they came down the line – if a part met the quality standard, he would let the part through; if a part did not meet the quality standards, he would remove it from the line. 

Bill then talked to the second shift employee in the same role. He asked her what her job was. She responded with “My job is saving babies lives!”. She shared that she did that by checking the quality of the parts on the line. If a part met the quality standard, she would let the part through; if a part did not meet the quality standards, she would remove it from the line.

Wow. These two employees have the SAME job. The SAME responsibilities. And yet, they had a very different perception.

The next obvious question is, which employee is more engaged? Which employee is more productive? Which employee is more likely to stay at the company (and not leave for a few more dollars an hour)? We know the answer.

What’s YOUR impact?

Not all of us work for businesses that manufacture products for incubators in the NICU. I get that. AND we all do work that has an impact – an impact on our world (making products that are sustainable, products that are more efficient for higher yield with less resources), an impact on people (supporting farmers that feed and fuel the world), an impact on the animals we love. We do cool stuff.

Retention Tip: Help your employees see the impact their role (and your business) has – on the business, on the community, and on the industry.

  • Make the connection for your team. Why do you love what you do? What is the impact YOU see based on the work you do? How does that translate for your team?  How can you make that connection for your team?  What information can you share with your team?
  • Ask the team. As leaders, we don’t need to have the answers. Sometimes we need to ask the right question. Ask them. The answers may surprise (and delight) you. It will provide your team with an opportunity to share their thoughts and perspectives. Not everyone will have an answer – for those that don’t, they will benefit from hearing from you and other members of your team.

Want more tips to retain employees? Join us for our presentation titled “Stop Letting Your Recruiting Challenges Create Retention Pain” at the 2023 ARA Conference & Expo on Wednesday, November 29 in Orlando, Florida.

Join us at 2023 ARA Conference