How to write an inspiring vision statement and 4 great examples

Vision Statement

What makes employees stay? It’s a question worth thinking about. Headlines continue to signal that the Great Resignation is in full swing, and companies are struggling to retain employees and recruit new ones, particularly for roles that were already hard to fill. Some have defaulted to boosting pay or improving benefits. That might draw in some new talent or make some existing employees change their minds about leaving, but for many organizations, it’s not financially sustainable.

Find out how to envision a company where everyone belongs

There’s never been a better time to leverage the power of culture and a compelling vision statement. Vision statements inspire potential and existing employees, encouraging them to be a part of your exciting future. Let’s take a look at what vision statements are, why they’re essential, and a few examples that your organization can use as inspiration.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement clearly and succinctly describes where your company wants to see itself in the future. They should be inspirational, serving as a guidepost for how organizations make decisions 一 especially in challenging times. If you can get them right, vision statements can be a huge factor in driving employee and company output. Employees find more meaning in their work when they see how it contributes to a lofty goal. With each small achievement, they feel a greater sense of accomplishment, motivating them to be more creative and productive.

Because the goals of every company are different, vision statements are unique to each organization, incorporating their specific values and aligning with their mission statements.

The difference between vision and mission statements

While they’re easily confused, vision and mission statements are two separate concepts that serve different functions. Mission statements outline a company’s purpose and ways of working. Vision statements instead represent what an organization wants to eventually achieve or become. That’s why mission statements are based on the present: they remind employees and customers why the company exists and the values they need to uphold. Vision statements have a more aspirational focus: they’re rooted in the future, focusing on what employees work towards and what customers can expect.

Crafting the right vision statement for your organization

Vision statements can be tough to get right. There’s limited space to express your organization’s important message 一 one that’s meant to move team members across the company. Follow these best practices to help your vision statement better encapsulate what your company stands for and where it intends to go.

1. Determine what your organization is

Your organization should first hone in on its qualities and values. What makes your company special? Is it the communities it serves? Maybe your flagship product is what really stands out. Or perhaps you’re known for attracting and developing a certain level of talent. Think about how these attributes relate to your larger goal, and use that as a foundation to tee up the rest of your vision statement.

2. Define where your organization wants to go

A deep understanding of the impact you want your organization to have on the world should be the basis of your vision statement. To help wrap your mind around this, list your company’s most audacious and important goals. Solicit help from leaders in various parts of your organization to make drafting your vision statement a collaborative, inclusive effort. Once your list is ready, envision what would happen if your organization would achieve the goals described. How would your industry change? How would your customers change? That birds-eye view will help your organization solidify its overall direction.

3. Stay specific and be creative

When writing your vision statement, it can be tempting to use competitors’ statements as inspiration, but it’s best to avoid this as much as possible. Your vision statement needs to play up your organization’s unique outlook, offerings, and desired outcomes, not those of other companies. Keep your vision statement simple and free of jargon, focusing instead on passion and impact. Use your vision statement as a creative outlet, marrying what already makes your company exceptional with the extraordinary things it will do in the future, leaning into your organization’s own powerful brand.

4. Update and communicate

Your business today may be far different from your business ten years from now, and that’s alright, provided that your vision statement evolves with your company. As your organization matures, make sure your vision is still in line with your culture and goals. After all, leaders and employees live out your vision and values every day. If you expect their behavior to change, your vision has to change, too.

If and when you make adjustments, you should communicate them to all team members and recognize the employees who exemplify your vision. Reinforcing and rewarding this behavior will prompt others to follow suit.

Examples of great vision statements

Now that you have a sense of how vision statements come together, it’s time to dive into some examples. Here are five noteworthy vision statements and why each is effective.

1. Southwest Airlines

Vision statement: “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

If you’ve ever flown on Southwest, you know about the flight and gate attendants’ good cheer. Southwest has made a name for themselves because of their beloved, accommodating staff, but also because of their competitive prices. Their vision highlights both of these impressive qualities, casting them as mechanisms for becoming the most popular and successful airline in existence.

2. Starbucks

Vision statement: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow.”

Coffee is part of Starbucks’ DNA, and their vision makes it clear that coffee will continue to catalyze the company’s growth 一 but not at the expense of its values. Starbucks’ vision statement does an excellent job of showcasing what makes the company special while committing their employees to certain standards as they continue to expand into new countries, product lines, and more.

3. Ben and Jerry’s

Vision statement: “Making the best ice cream, in the nicest possible way.”

Ben and Jerry’s isn’t just celebrated for its delicious ice cream. It’s also recognized for its dedication to corporate social responsibility. As such, they needed a vision statement that would promote both the quality of their product and ethical production behind the scenes. Their vision statement does just that, beautifully combining these two distinct features into a short, sweet, and memorable statement.

4. Disney

Vision statement: “To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.”

Disney’s vision statement is clear, compelling, and ambitious. Attempting to lead one industry is more than enough for most organizations, but Disney’s goals go beyond this. Everyone knows that Disney wants to make life more enjoyable with its movies, products, parks, hotels, and more, but they likely don’t know the full scope of Disney’s vision. This statement ties together Disney’s aims and makes it easy for potential and current employees to stay on the same page.

Take another step towards realizing your company vision

Vision statements are a powerful way to encourage employees to excel, even in tough times. Centering your employees around a clear, meaningful objective helps them feel like they are making a difference. But publishing a stellar vision statement isn’t going to improve company performance on its own. Leaders need to make a conscious effort to recognize folks striving to accomplish the company’s vision in their everyday work. Rewarding employees who help fulfill your vision puts you on the path to a great organizational culture.

Achievers Recognize, a key part of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform, can get you closer to realizing your vision. With Achievers Recognize, you can propel engagement forward through positive reinforcement, ensuring that employees continue bringing their best selves to work. It makes it easy to show appreciation for actions that align with your organization’s vision and values.

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Profile image of author: Aleksandra Masionis

Aleks is the Associate Director of Content Marketing at Achievers, an award-winning employee engagement software that creates a workplace of recognition that accelerates performance and improves retention. In her role as an employee engagement expert and thought leader, Aleks produces research-driven content backed by workforce science.  Leveraging key findings from the Achievers Workforce Institute - an authority and trusted advisor to HR and business leaders - and coupled with her years of experience, Aleks helps organizations reach, recognize, reward, and engage their workforces through thoughtful and actionable content. Connect with Aleks on LinkedIn.  

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