One of the most interesting global trends in recent years is organizations' choice to incorporate within their business goals diverse aspects of value-based management, designed to guide and instruct employees, customers, investors, and the company as a whole. “With great power, comes great responsibility” is no longer a cliché of fictional superheroes but an innovative managerial concept that recognizes the right, opportunity, and responsibility organizations in general and their leaders, in particular, have in making our world a better place.
The obvious question, then, is how can maintaining a value-based perception reinforces economic growth? The best way to answer that is to look at Bioforum Group's unique journey over the past two years. The Group has successfully implemented the Doing Good Model (DGM) to positively impact its employees' wellbeing, ensure the organization’s prosperity, and create a powerful social impact.
Creating employee engagement through a values-based vision Bioforum Group provides a variety of services to companies and organizations in the field of life sciences in support of clinical research and trials. As part of the Group's business plan for 2019, the leadership team set a goal for significant business growth, which is reflected in both the development of innovative products and a penetration strategy to enter new markets outside of Israel, all while increasing its employee headcount (as of December 2018). The owner and Chairman of the Group, Amir Malka, understood that in preparation for such a change, it is essential to strengthen another dimension in the organization: “the organizational glue,” which is designed to connect all employees and the Group's diverse activities into one clear shared vision.
In Israel and around the world, many CEOs aspire to create employee engagement that links the individual with the collective. Managers understand that while most employees do what is required of them, connected employees will go above and beyond their job description to contribute to the company's success, as they are driven by a passion and a sense of mission. They are ultimately also more productive. However, according to Gallup studies, only 15% of employees in various organizations around the world feel engaged.
So, what is the secret to creating an honest and genuine engagement between employees and the organization? Bioforum's management has chosen the DGM methodology to give each employee a sense of meaning and importance within the organization, in a way that will have a long-lasting positive impact on peoples' wellbeing and on society as a whole.
First steps on the journey In our first meeting with Amir, we could right away see the spark in his eyes. We could also see his desire to create a change in the organization based on how genuinely the group’s management and leadership team connect with the people in the organization. Having a foundation of commitment and management's desire to drive top-down change is crucial for getting the method off the ground. DGM offers a set of methodologies, processes, and tools designed to instill into the organizational DNA an increased sense of awareness, as well as attitudes and behaviors based on values. But this will only happen by following the daily example of the company's leaders and their encouragement, as well as through a bottom-up approach that connects employees and encourages them to take part in the process.
Together, we identified the need to strengthen Bioforum Group’s organizational DNA and instill core values that will form a reliable infrastructure for the organization's diverse business activities, as it continues to grow with hundreds of employees scattered across four sites worldwide.
At a toast for Rosh Hashanah, Amir said, “Today, we embark on a journey that you all have a part in shaping. It begins in each of us as human beings with personal destinies and values that are important to us. The organization is the connecting circle in which we can all express ourselves, enjoy our achievements, and impact our social environments. If we all adopt this approach, I believe we will be more prosperous – both as individuals and as an organization.” We saw a few people raising an eyebrow at this while others were asking questions such as “what does it mean?”, “how much time will it take up from our 'real jobs'?”, “how will we know if and when this has a positive impact on our business results?”.
Any change, however positive, brings questions and uncertainty. It is important to acknowledge these questions and give them room to exist. We need to realize that the way to tackle them is to create a transparent process, with actual employee involvement as agents of change.
The process of assimilating DGM:
The process goes through several steps of development:
Step 1: Creating a sustainable organizational framework
Just as we manage core business areas such as marketing and sales, finance, human resources, and logistics – so do we need to manage a strategic, transformative process that has a cross-organizational impact. The starting point is selecting a Vice President (VP) to lead the change process; he or she will be defined as VP Values.
“This is like a dream come true for me,” the VP Values told us. “Over the past four years, I have been exposed to a range of innovative ideas in organizational management. I waited for the moment when Amir would finally take a step forward with this approach – and here it is.” We met the parent company's management for two days, during which we introduced the DGM methodology.
We challenged ourselves by asking interesting questions relating to leadership, management, and doing good. Each manager took the opportunity to define his or her personal purpose (“Why do I exist and when I am at my best, who am I?”). All of this was accompanied by our unique methodology. Simultaneously, we conducted a short survey among all employees to understand better how people feel (i.e., individual wellbeing) and grasp aspects related to the organizational mindset and culture. We also wanted to identify which interfaces the organization has with the community and the environment (i.e., social impact).
To connect all the employees to the journey, we held a festive event based on a method from the field of participatory leadership, which was designed to connect everyone to the activity both personally and organizationally. At this point, it became clear that it is worth re-examining the group's current vision. The management team understood how important it was for the vision to address all of its stakeholders and define other areas beyond those that are solely business-related. An event of this kind, in which all employees have the opportunity to say the things that are important to them as well as to hear their co-workers and board members speak freely, already creates a kind of new business reality and helps foster a sense of “we are all one.”
Our journey with Bioforum came after many years of experience working with business and philanthropic companies within the Arison Group. We’ve come to understand that middle-level managers, working with the organization's management (on the one hand) and with the employees in the field (on the other), are an important anchor and driver for integrating sustainability into the corporate DNA.
Thirteen middle-level managers were selected to participate in the “purposeful managers Program”, which provides participants with the tools necessary to identify their personal, professional, and social value. They were exposed to each other personally and in both professional and managerial aspects. From session to session, the participants offered more and more insights about their shifting attitudes and behaviors.
To realize this in practice, the program’s participants were encouraged to initiate projects that they felt passionate about and put their newly acquired methodologies and tools into practice, with the backing and support of management.
Their projects involve diverse stakeholders from business, social, and environmental aspects and the connections between them. Regarding the business aspect, the focus was on creating KPIs that are suitable to the new corporate DNA as well as establishing a collaborative knowledge base for all departments, which offers updates on the organization's social and professional changes. The social aspect was concentrated on establishing a dedicated wellness team that advances social well-being and health-related quality of life activities (such as mindfulness workshops, extreme sports challenges, and employee birthday celebrations and experiences). The environmental aspect centered on creating an environmental forum that looks for ways to reduce employees' use of non-perishable materials in the office and at home.
“The conversation in the workplace has changed,” “I get up in the morning happy to come into work where I know that I am really seen,” “I am connected to the organization and understand what and how we're contributing to society,” “my personal values are reflected in the organization, and that is not something that is obvious.” These are just some of the positive feedback examples we received from employees.
The concept of doing good touches every corner of the organization, including strategic thinking, business decision making, the organizational structure, human resources processes, collection policies and procedures, sales and customer service, supply chain, and more.
As we progress, more and more managers in the organization begin to adopt a concept of abundance that strengthens them in dealing with constraints associated with a lack of resources. They gain a better understanding of financial freedom and how to incorporate it into work plans, and we see them begin to come up with ways to encourage their employees to find meaning in their job and work happily. They also start to examine the language they use with themselves, with their employees, and with their customers.
“Does it really affect the financial prosperity of the organization?”, “do you have any studies that prove that, or do we just need to be optimistic?”; “can this be measured?”.
Step 3: Measurement
There is a common saying that “what isn't measurable doesn't exist.”
So how do you measure the effectiveness of doing good? And how do you know if it also has a positive impact on business results?
The DGM Inside measurement tool collects a broad range of information, using quantitative and objective questions at the individual and organizational levels, and quantifies the organization’s potential to impact society and the environment positively.
The results that are provided reflect on how each dimension affects the organization's business prosperity. The management team can use this to make business decisions and prioritize what to focus on in order to continue to do good.
Our journey with Bioforum is still in progress, and it continues to grow stronger.
The journey is accompanied by constant internal organizational communication to and with employees through a range of diverse and creative communication tools.
In this case, it is not obvious that the organization continues to invest heavily in resources that allow it to merge a values-based DNA into processes within and outside of its value chain. It also trains managers located in multiple sites around the world, and most importantly, it connects people and helps bring them together. Together, all of these activities create an organizational and managerial framework that takes the organization forward, towards a better future for its employees, its business success, and for society and the environment.