In 2014, George Marc-Aurele, chief people officer at Digital Remedy, a digital media marketing company, took a close look at his organization and its culture. What he saw was shocking. Instead of a tight group of employees who were all guided by the same values and vision, people had a dis-unified view of what defined their company.
"The team assumed they knew the core values, but they really didn't," said Marc-Aurele. "It was a messy environment and one that needed to be fixed."
As a result, Digital Remedy created an "Emerging Leadership Council," a group of employees from all departments and levels of the company who joined together to clearly define the company's core values.
Once those were established, the council worked to create programs that would unite and engage employees. Since its inception, the Emerging Leadership Council has helped the organization win multiple best place to work awards.
That's just one example of how companies can use employee groups to improve their organizations. With the right mission and teamwork, companies can create a clear, engaging culture employees are proud to be a part of.
Let's look at three other examples of companies who are making the most of employee leadership groups:
AppLift's International Talent Program
AppLift is a marketing company for mobile apps, and the International Talent Program is a six-month program designed to groom high performers for more responsibility and higher roles.
"We initially implemented this program when AppLift began to grow at an incredibly rapid pace," said Stefan Benndorf, AppLift's COO. "Once we reached more than 50 team members, we wanted to codify our values to make everything clear and explicit for new employees, but also have our values be terms everyone was happy with."
Motivated by that goal, the company created an employee development program that included input from employees. It helped to solidify the organization's culture and values.
Now, the company offers employees mentors and gives them a chance to work on a project that improves the workplace.
After completing the program, employees spend two to four weeks at another AppLift office to share what they've learned. This allows employees to develop and helps keep everyone on the same page, despite being in different locations.
Factual's "Women @ Factual" Group
Factual is a data provider for marketing, developmental, and enterprise solutions, and "Women @ Factual" is a group meant to foster female relationships and inspire women in tech.
Factual's program focuses on providing career support and paths to advancement for female employees. It strives to inspire people so they can grow through educational and social events.
The program has included everything from a female leadership speaker series to workshops on financial success. With 100 percent participation throughout the organization, Woman @ Factual has had a big impact on the company.
"Women face distinct issues that affect their representation throughout their career, especially in the tech industry," said Taylor Rose, Factual's head of people operations. "We want to make sure women not only have the tools to grow, but also the confidence to do so."
The men at Factual have also been incredibly supportive of the program. Many have expressed interest in learning more about what it entails and why it's important.
Intermarkets's "POETIC" Program
Intermarkets is an online advertising, publishing, and advocacy company, and POETIC (Positive, Optimistic, Enthusiastic, Tenacious, Innovative, and Committed) is a program designed to train individuals for leadership positions and encourage them to lead projects that improve company culture.
"To us, POETIC is more than just a company mantra," said Joy Solorzano, the company's human resources manager. "So, we designed the training course around the acronym to instill leadership skills that correlated with the concepts that underpin our company culture."
And participants have been quick to action after completing the eight-week course. For example, the 2016 program was focused on improving communications. Since the course's completion, employees have already rolled out two of the seven ideas developed during the POETIC program.
Intermarkets has also experienced improved employee retention since POETIC started. The company reports that no one has voluntarily left Intermarkets in the last two years. They were also able to promote 16 of the 33 program participants.
Solorzano explained that the secret to POETIC's success was tying the program back to everyday aspects of employees' jobs: "Without this follow-up, even the best developed and presented initiatives will fall flat."