How to Align Your Employees to Strategic and Business Goals

Spend an exhilarating day at a world-class ski resort on the slopes of a beautiful snow-crested mountain? Or watch how engaged employees demonstrate alignment to their employer's strategy and business goals? Hmm. No choice there, eh?

Actually it isn't a choice if you happen to be visiting one of the superb ski destinations (or other resort properties) owned by Vail Resorts Management Company. Because Vail Resorts is an organization with a clear identity, compelling values, a solid strategy, and an informed workforce whose everyday job performance reflects alignment with that strategy.

Vail Resorts

i4cp research confirms that alignment of employees with strategy and business goals is a hallmark of high-performance organizations. In fact, high-performers are 2.5x more likely than lower-performers to get this key to successful execution correct.

Vail Resorts makes the connection

i4cp's The People-Profit Chain™, a model for organizational performance improvement, emphasizes how important it is that employees have line-of-sight from their job duties to organizational strategy and goals. Establishing that strong connection can be challenging for some companies, but under the leadership of executive vice president and chief people officer, Mark Gasta, Vail Resorts mounted a creative initiative to galvanize employees around a shared mission, vision, values and strategy.

The project was dubbed Elevation: Taking Vail Resorts to New Heights, and began with Gasta's drafting a cross-divisional group he called the Culture Team. Job one for the team was crafting a mission statement, which Gasta describes as "something that serves as the North Star when you're planning for the future." That "something" turned out to be Vail Resorts' internal employment brand, the Experience of a Lifetime™. It proved to be a guiding aspiration that described the essence of the resort experience for employees and guests, alike.

Clarifying company values and finding a way to bring them to life is a tall order, but with the mission statement accomplished, the Culture Team found a way to simplify existing organizational principles. Better communicating the clearer values and providing examples of employees putting them into action in daily work situations strengthened the connections between individual jobs and organizational aims. It demonstrated line-of-sight.

Leaders played an active role

While the Culture Team was hard at work, Vail Resorts' leadership team stepped up, too. Executives tightened the focus of the organization, redefining the core business, affirming the differentiators that set Vail Resorts apart, and making sure that all business holdings aligned with those factors. "Acknowledging the core enabled us to give clarity to our workforce, get people aligned, help them understand how their efforts contribute to something bigger, and ultimately, where we are going in the future," Gasta explains.

Vail Resorts' alignment initiative also illustrates the strategic role HR can play by bringing together cross-functional groups and facilitating interactions. Says Gasta, "It's the reason we are in HR--enlisting our employees in a greater purpose, getting them fully involved in the organization, providing services and creating products because they are passionate, connected and engaged."

Take a deeper dive

i4cp offers a full case study of Vail Resorts' initiative that provides greater detail and includes takeaways business leaders can apply in their own organizations to reap the performance benefits of a workforce that is properly aligned with strategic and business goals.

Download a complimentary copy of The People-Profit Chain™ for more information on the performance benefits of aligning employees with organizational strategy.
Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.