Business Action Guide: Leading at the Intersection of People and Profits

Broughton Consulting was engaged by The Hitachi Foundation in 2014 to help create the Business Action Guide series highlighting companies whose innovative employee engagement practices enable both employees and businesses to thrive.

The vision was to create a one-stop shop for businesses to learn about great employee engagement practices, from hiring for culture fit, to effective onboarding and mentoring, to cross training, to open book management and effective profit sharing, all the way to employee ownership via broad based stock options and ESOPs. Each practice is told from the perspective of a successful business leader who has used the practice successfully and can give practical advice to other businesses who may want to adapt it to their own company. We interviewed companies in a range of sectors and geographies and distilled key lessons learned.

The leaders we spoke with wanted to find ways to empower people at all levels to succeed. Some, like New Belgium and New Seasons Market, founded their companies to be more participatory because it reflected their values. It just made sense to them to practice open book management and to share ownership via an ESOP. Others, like Tasty Catering and Roll Forming, changed their culture because of some key event, but then became very committed because of how well it worked for the company and the employees.

Business such as Marlin Steel, Integrated Packing Corporation, and Tasty Catering align the interests of the business and of the employees through smart bonus and gainsharing plans so that everyone knows what needs to be done and are rewarded for doing it well so that everyone wins. They make significant investments in their employees through mentoring, training and education, promoting from within, paying workers to learn new skills, and cross training. All of these investments pay off in the form of high engagement and low turnover.

Along with The Hitachi Foundation and several of the executives interviewed, we’ve presented the ideas covered in the Business Action Guides at several conferences, including the National Center for Employee Ownership’s annual conference in Denver and The National Gathering of Games in St. Louis, which was written about in Forbes. Click here to read the guide.