Apple CEO Tim Cook recently shared his advice to students on what it takes to be successful during a speaking engagement at his alma mater, the University of Naples Federico. While his insights on the personality traits Apple looks for in prospective staff took the spotlight, the most heavy-hitting wisdom he had to impart went largely unnoticed.
What Cook offered his audience was a lot more than what it takes to become a successful applicant at Apple. But rather, how to build companies like Apple using a very simple two-word strategy: Improve lives. But not just the lives of your customer-the lives of your staff. It’s part of the strangest, yet most effective Great Resignation strategy and it's one that Apple continues to use to weather the ever-evolving employment landscape.
The simple two word strategy has helped drive Apple to become one of the most sought-after employers amongst the world’s brightest minds. The result is leading-edge innovations and immense loyalty-amongst both customers and staff.
Apple Attracts Staff By Retaining Staff
What companies like Apple understand is that it’s not just about what you look for in great potential team members, but how you look to keep them.
In order to stay competitive as a business, you must continuously attract top talent that is eager to work to discover fresh ideas that improve the end product and drive both customer desire and satisfaction-along with sales. But a key to attracting top talent is retaining top talent. After all, no one wants to work for a company that no one wants to work for.
The answer to how a company can become a more attractive employer is to be an employer that employees don’t want to leave. This loyalty effectively decreases costly turnover, while increasing desirability when a coveted position does become available.
What Apple has that many employers don’t-and the reason why Apple receives far more highly-qualified applicants for its roles is that it has the key ingredients to retaining staff. Without these ingredients, Cook noted, money won’t be enough to make the job worth doing.
Work To Improve The Lives Of Customers And Staff
Cook said that “People have to work for a reason bigger than themselves. So you want to have a vision for a company that is about serving the customer and somehow improving their lives.” People need to feel as though their job has a purpose because that’s what gives them fulfillment within their roles.
Without this underlying fulfillment from helping others, he went on to say, “There’s no gravitational pull from that – the gravitational pull is always, What are you doing for other people? And with a purpose like that, it’s amazing what people will do from a work point of view.”
Apple’s recipe for success boils down to just three key words, “improving their lives.” But it's not just in regards to improving the lives of customers-rather simultaneously improving the lives of its staff, leading to increased workplace satisfaction and decreased employee turnover.
When Staff Know Their “Why” They’ll Find The “How”
In order for staff to successfully fulfill their roles, staff need to feel fulfilled by their role. It may sound like a tall order, but it is a two-way street where staff feels fulfilled with their lives by recognizing how their role helps improve the lives of the customers.
The result is that staff see their purpose, which is a powerful tool for leaders who want to inspire their team to do their best work, according to the Harvard Business Review.
If you don’t help staff find their purpose, be prepared to watch them leave, says McKinsey.
The problem is that the further a position is from the customer, the less evident their direct impact on their customer is. Yet, every role plays a role in impacting the lives of the business’s customers.
The key then is to help employees understand their part in the overall success of the company and oftentimes this involves helping staff get closer to their “why” or their core purpose. And in understanding their “why” staff move closer to discovering the “how.”
Every business offers its customers a benefit-even if it's not particularly life-changing or glamorous. There is always a reason why customers are, well, customers. They’re choosing the business, its products and services for some purpose and every employee was part of that providing that benefit or solution to the customer.
To improve your business, take a note from Apple and make improving the lives of your customers – and staff-part of your long-term success strategy.