Human Resources: Why (a Good) Story Matters

Credits: Canva

The fact that companies are integrating a social dimension into their mission is a good thing. The critics shall say that it is a surreptitiously way of paying lip-service to the company’s brand image or a way to differentiate themselves from their peers. Or even a way to clear one’s conscience.

The problem is that simply giving away a few percent of profits or making nice CSR reports is not enough. Somehow, it must be translated into actions and with a real will to create impact. And with the right narrative. Otherwise, it doesn’t feel right. And it can create the opposite effect than the one you may have wanted at the beginning.

Why should a company have a social mission? Because the company should not only serve its shareholders, but all its stakeholders, including its employees. Also, because a company is part of an ecosystem that it must take care of, an ecosystem composed of human beings, not robots (at least not yet). And finally, because a business that favours short-term profit over social impact is sure to fail and disappear (see further).

Let me be more precise: to make social impact a full-fledged mission would be about following a just cause and following a just cause is federative. And if companies need to unite their employees around something, it must be done now, right now. Especially in a context of the “Big Quit”, where more and more workers aspire to leave their company to give more meaning to their own lives. It’s really dead simple: more than 85% are not happy at work. 65%, in the United States alone, want to leave their jobs, which will eventually lead to a shortage of manpower and talent.

What does this have to do with the story?

All the research concludes the same thing: giving meaning to work is one way (but not the only way) to make employees more engaged at work. It’s in the company’s best interest to provide a consistent employee experience AND a narrative that encapsulates this notion of meaning. A story that shows that the company has values and cares not only about the well-being of its employees, but also that of society’s. That’s why Storytelling in all its forms is so important.

People love stories. That’s what human history is built on. On stories. The upheaval caused by the pandemic is an opportunity for companies to redefine theirs, a collection of related stories, or a single story, that unites all their employees., as Storytelling is the glue of all human organizations, so it’d be the same for a company. It is the meaning it will give to its story that will make it attractive and will make people want to work for it. Trust will come from its narrative and its translation into action. If it is challenged by a change in strategy, by inconsistencies, if it loses fluidity, then you can be sure that the relationship of trust that the company has taken the time to build with its employees or even its stakeholders will go up in smoke.

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