04/15/2015 03:27 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2015

How One Fortune 500 Company Drives Employee Productivity

maselkoo99 via Getty Images

Does being productive mean being tied up at work for 12+ hours a day and being accessible 24/7? Not at this Fortune 500 company that has also been recognized as a best places to work. While they want their people to be effective in their roles and efficient in achieving their professional goals they place a lot of emphasis on employee engagement. It's employee engagement that really drives employee productivity.

The same is also true of the majority of HR professionals I polled just last month -- their number one challenge to increasing employee productivity is getting employees engaged.

According to a study done by Gallup companies with engaged employees not only have significantly higher productivity but also have higher profitability, higher customer ratings, less turnover and less absenteeism. This is certainly the case for the Fortune 500 company in question. The same study also estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. a monstrous $450 billion to $550 billion a year.

What really has the most impact for this Fortune 500 company is purpose when it comes to improving employee engagement and productivity. While they have many initiatives and policies in place to drive employee engagement the one thing that stands out the most is purpose.

They are helping their employees recognize their own purpose for what they're doing for the firm. Not only are they helping them fulfill their purpose at work but they have policies in place that truly support their life outside of the office as well. They respect the fact that people have a life outside of the company. They understand that it's really important for them to feel successful there too because then they bring that feeling and level of satisfaction back to their work as well.

For example they have all sorts of activities for people to participate in like sports leagues. Also depending on the office you're in, some might do a talent show at night and you can play your musical instrument. The point is it all allows you to showcase who you are.

The work they've been putting into defining and creating purpose has emphasized their culture as well. It's like the binding glue. It's one thing to define the purpose of a company or what is often known as a mission statement but in order for this to be successful programs have to be aligned with the goals of the organization and the purpose at all levels. Systems and processes have to work towards those same goals as opposed to something that might encourage different behaviors. It's not enough to have the company's purpose or mission statement up on a website or be so technical employees would not resonate with it. Employees have to live it and breathe it.

Defining and creating purpose at a company is both a top down and bottom up approach. The work I've done with companies around this can be broken down into four pillars:

  1. Helping employees understand the company's unique purpose - this is about making the mission/purpose of the company personal
  2. Defining what matters most for employees to deliver on the purpose of the company - this is about defining the company's core values
  3. Helping employees identify their own purpose
  4. Creating alignment between the company purpose and values and the individual employees'

How does this Fortune 500 company know what they're doing works? They have had very high participation in the activities they have asked people to participate in and it has been reflected in their employee engagement scores too. And if this weren't enough they can boast the accolade of being a best place to work company.