Last week Michael Erisman had the opportunity to sit down with Karen Revoire, Contributing HR Editor of Hot Topics. Together, they discussed how employee voice helps differentiate a company’s brand.

As the head of HR for DocuSign, I know that connecting all of our people to our mission is essential to our success.  At DocuSign, our mission is to transform the way the world operates and transform how people and businesses connect across boundaries that can restrict us.  We decrease friction, increase collaboration and bring people to agreement — and that is significant in today’s world.  When our people align to this higher purpose, it enables us to continue to grow, to innovate and to be connected to make a real difference.  

The connection I’m speaking about is the ability for us — as employees —  to be able to not only talk about our mission, but be deeply moved and touched by how DocuSign can transform people’s lives. One example is how Special Olympics uses DocuSign to transform the way they run their events for hundreds of thousands of special athletes each year.  Before using DocuSign, some athletes would arrive without signed waivers from guardians and not be able to compete. Now our product enables these athletes to be able to arrange for signatures on the spot and then compete. When our customer told this story at our annual customer conference, Momentum, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including mine. When people come to work for DocuSign, they are engaged with our mission from the very start.

We want to build on that connection, and so we weave our mission of changing the world into the very structure of our company. That’s why we started the DocuSign IMPACT Foundation. Its purpose is to give back to our communities and empower nonprofits to be even more effective in their own individual missions by enabling them to focus resources on what matters. DocuSign IMPACT is entirely run by employees who actively participate and volunteer for a number of causes they find personally meaningful. Each employee receives 3 Volunteer Days off each year. We recently held our Global IMPACT Day which brought together over 800 employees in 30 locations for 40 causes. DocuSign IMPACT allows us to really connect with mission-driven organizations and help partner with them. An example is our partnership with Team Rubicon which deploys former veterans to crisis situations like Hurricane Matthew. You’d be surprised how many signatures Team Rubicon needs on the ground to get permission to do the life-saving work they do. DocuSign is a part of that. We enable them to get approvals faster. DocuSign IMPACT has allowed us to make philanthropy part of the company’s DNA.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to connect employees to the mission from day one. When we onboard new employees, we have each new person participate in a two-day onboarding which includes a DocuSign IMPACT project. They might bag food for the local food bank or help sort and pack clothing for the homeless. Essentially, the program connects them to our mission and actively engages them in it from the start. After all, DocuSign IMPACT is fueled by employees themselves who manage events and volunteer opportunities for their teams. We allow them the creative freedom to say “We can make a difference here. Or here. Or there.” It’s really up to them to drive the program forward and propel the broader mission. We’ve found that when you focus your daily tasks on something that has a bigger meaning and purpose, it translates to every aspect of how people work in the company.  The partnerships and relationships created through these events translate directly into how people team together in innovating new products and serving customers.  

What’s amazing is that ultimately it does serve the business as well. I recently read some powerful statistics in INC magazine about millennials: 64% of millennials would rather get paid much less to be at a job that they really love than go make more money and sacrifice their true interests. 84% of millennials say that making a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.  We are a growing business. We hire hundreds of new employees globally each year — and many of them millennials. The fact that employees connect so deeply to our mission and DocuSign IMPACT is a huge competitive advantage for us as a company.

Want to learn how to foster a broader purpose in your organization? Click here to watch Michael Erisman’s interview with Hot Topics in its entirety.