Storytelling for Ultimate Engagement

 

Blog - Lauryn Sargent - July 9, 2015

Storytelling for Ultimate Engagement

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Storytelling is Proof

Storytelling has become a big trend over the last few years. As the company that coined the term Culturography, which is creating media from stories to illustrate culture, we love the rise of its popularity. However, for all the storytelling talk, we've found organizations are missing a real opportunity to use their true stories for external (recruiting candidates, employer branding) and internal (onboarding new team members, recognizing tenured ones) engagement. It's even more surprising since we know engagement is a huge problem, and especially important in the first six months, when 90% of your people are deciding whether to stay with you long term.

One of several ways we use storytelling for engagement is to substitute the word "Story" for Proof. Data drives most decisions in business, and discerning candidates and your team members are looking for proof and data to use when making professional decisions: Should they join your company? How worthy are you of their continued time and talent (engagement can be a choice)?

You can help future and existing team members choose you every day by highlighting the stories happening on a regular basis within your organization that best illustrate who you are: your core values, your mission, your purpose, even certain innovative policies.

Here are some examples of companies who have used specific stories to illustrate pieces of their culture:

You can wear a chicken suit to work at The Motley Fool

We spoke to a "Fool" at The Motley Fool who told us she brings her "whole self to work." In addition to her specific story that proved it — she mentioned to the People team she always wanted to be a mascot, and the People team bought her a chicken suit — we found several other examples, even some born out of the Fool's HR policies (bonus).

You just may always have a home at HomeAway

HomeAway celebrates top talent. They want their team members to have the freedom to explore their passions and be open to opportunities, even if that takes them elsewhere. Life has led a few team members back to HomeAway, and the company does its best to welcome them home again.

As part of her position at HomeAway, Janice worked closely with an innkeeper in Vermont, who fell gravely ill. The innkeeper needed someone to help her transition the business for sale. "I couldn't ignore that stepping in was what I needed to do," Janice said. She left HomeAway and later returned in a different role years later. Alex had an opportunity to co-found a company in an exciting new technical field. After testing the market, he decided to close his entrepreneurial venture while HomeAway was standing up a new division that needed Alex's new technical skillset. They recruited Alex back to HomeAway to help start a new division.

Here's a video that showcases Janice and Alex's stories.

Stories speak louder than values on your wall

Pairing true stories to your core values and purpose statement is a no-brainer to address real engagement issues (and in many cases, get ahead of them). Riot Games and Teach for America are two companies that do this really well, and provide great examples of how team members live their organization's values. Otherwise, values and mission and purpose statements are empty words on your wall.

As humans, we're wired to remember these anecdotes. Use them to your advantage to fight the engagement battle in your organization. What specific stories illustrate your organization's core values and purpose, or highlight an innovative policy? I'd love to hear all of 'em.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is a cofounder and partner at Stories Incorporated, where she has gained insight into how different high performing cultures develop and engage their talent. Prior to starting Stories Incorporated, Lauryn recruited for entrepreneurial organizations and Fortune 500 companies, in both agency and corporate environments.

Lauryn Sargent