Employee Engagement Lessons from Steve Jobs

Jacqueline Benjamin | December 21, 2017

Employee Engagement Lessons from Steve Jobs

There’s no shortage of inspirational Steve Jobs quotes online. He has unsurprisingly developed something of a mythical status in the world of business. Under his watchful eye, Apple revolutionised personal computers, mobile phones and consumption of music (I’m sure there’s more) as well as making a very healthy profit in the process.

From an employee engagement perspective Steve Jobs is particularly interesting because, in many ways, he and his team at Apple pioneered the concept of 360 degree engagement – the idea that passionate employees lead to greater customer engagement and, ultimately, higher profits.

So how did they put that into practice? Here are five practical employee engagement lessons that we can learn from Steve Jobs:

1. Going above and beyond the salary

Apple employees famously have great perks. What was really neat about Steve Jobs’ approach was the policy of giving great discounts on Apple products (friends and family included). Not only did the business help its employees’ salaries go further but it also developed an army of dedicated brand ambassadors in the process.

2. Encouraging collaboration and team moments

The idea of collaboration was hugely important to Steve Jobs. He believed that random encounters and team moments would spark creativity and original thought. He designed Apple’s offices with this very concept in mind, with a big focus on communal open spaces to spark these random encounters. Apple employees have publicly talked about the team events and activities that they attended and the positive impact this had on team morale. This kind of collaboration is also crucial to the success of employee engagement, particularly in areas such as reward and recognition.

3. Understanding the importance of employee recognition

Steve understood that employees had to feel valued in order to be motivated and engaged in their work. This is perhaps best summed up in one interview where he talked about the importance of empowering employees to make their own decisions in order to attract and retain the best talent.

4. Encouraging learning and development

What was unique about Apple was that all staff were given learning and development opportunities, from programmers and designers to those on the shop floor. Some retail employees have even talked about attending communications training that was “on par with a Master's level communications course”. These kinds of opportunities are a great way of supporting staff’s long-term engagement in a business.

5. Inspiring people on a personal level

Steve Jobs was clearly a hugely inspiring person, even to staff who had never met him. There are stories of Apple stores giving a standing ovation in his memory when news broke that he had passed away, for example. So what made him so special?  Well, apart from his technical prowess and commercial success, one thing that appears to have resonated with people was that he wasn’t to afraid to take risks and, if necessary, fail in his efforts to achieve greatness. In his own words: "the greatest artists like Dylan, Picasso and Newton risked failure. And if we want to be great, we've got to risk it, too."

Employee engagement is critical to workplace productivity and organisational success. Xexec provides bespoke employee discount portals and reward and recognition software to help improve engagement amongst staff. To learn more (or demo our platforms) speak to one of our consultants today.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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