Do your employees know why they do what they do?

It’s easy to assume most of your employees would give a quick answer to this question. In fact, some of your employees might be offended by the question. But the reality is, if you asked 10 people this question, don’t be surprised if you hear 10 different answers.

One employee may say you sell merchandise to support a non-profit. Another may discuss the specifics of what he or she does. If there is any variance, the multiple answers suggest an opportunity to clarify the vision and mission for what your store does.

If your store’s primary goal is to help fund a non-profit, then all your employees should have an awareness of how the store is performing, including daily sales and expenses. If they are not in tune with that goal or the store’s performance, then their motivation would be less than ideal.

How does the store’s brand relate to the non-profit’s brand? Do they have similar values, look, and overall condition? Is there an assumption that every employee knows what is going on at the non-profit and championing the cause at every opportunity? How about the staff’s personal behavior? Is it consistent with the non-profit’s values?

Consider putting the “why” of what you do in the simplest stated form and educate your staff on what each one means as it is lived out. Here is an example of one client’s efforts to do just that, and the results for the employees proved to be well worth the effort.


If you communicate the “why” regularly, the following happens:

  1. Your employees begin to understand their contribution to the store’s overall profitability and its impact on the non-profit.
  2. They develop ownership in what the non-profit is doing and become excited to tell the story to customers and donors alike.
  3. They understand how they treat fellow employees and everyone coming to their store is an opportunity to meet the expressed objective.

The bottom line: We all perform our best when we’re all moving in the same direction.

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