Vision vs. Mission Statement: Which One Should HR Focus on First?
Employees today want full transparency when it comes to their employers, and this begins with Human Resources.
In a recent survey conducted by BambooHR, 77% of employees said they want to learn everything there is to know about a company before they even apply. What’s more, 32% of candidates are willing to contact current and former employees to get candid insights about their would-be employers.
As candidates seek to discover what your organization is really like, well-defined mission and vision statements go a long way in telling your story authentically to resonate with the right people. An articulate vision and mission statement can—and should—have an incredible impact on your day-to-day work. This applies not only across the entire organization, but for individual departments as well.
When you fail to adequately define your mission or vision, you run the risk of both hiring the wrong people and failing to align your people behind a unified purpose. In either case, the results can be catastrophic to your team, department, and organization.
If you're struggling to find time to build out your department's vision and mission, BambooHR® can help. Our award-winning HR software frees you from time-consuming tasks to focus on what matters most to drive your business forward. Learn more today.
Vision vs. Mission Statement: What's the Difference and Where Should You Start?
When determining how to craft your vision vs. mission, think of your mission as a declaration of what your team does, and a vision statement as a guide to where it wants to go.
In a nutshell, the differences come down to the timeframe:
- Mission Statement: Explains the present, why you came into being, and what you do.
- Vision Statement: Explains the future, where you’re going, and how you intend to get there.
Ideally, your vision for the future should feel like a natural outcome of staying true to your mission for a sustained period of time.
If your day-to-day activities don’t align with either, it’s time to reassess or redefine them.
5 Effective Mission Statement Examples
Effective mission statements are clear, impactful, and tell a succinct, yet compelling story. Essentially, you want to boil down your organization’s reason for existing into a single sentence or two.
The following mission statements do a great job of summarizing what their organizations are about:
- BambooHR: “Set people free to do great work.”
- Google: “Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Patagonia: “We’re in business to save our home planet.”
- Southwest Airlines: “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
- Walmart: “To save people money so they can live better.”
5 Powerful Vision Statement Examples
A powerful vision statement defines where an organization wants to go in the future, and the ultimate end goal they’re striving to reach.
The following vision statements do an excellent job of summarizing who these organizations want to be:
- Apple: “Make the best products on earth and leave the world better than we found it.”
- Amazon: “Be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
- IKEA: “Create a better everyday life for the many people.”
- Microsoft: “Create local opportunity, growth, and impact in every country around the world.”
- Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
Where Should You Start?
Knowing where to focus first between vision and mission statements will depend on what your organization’s priorities and goals are.
If you are a well established company, chances are you already understand a great deal about who you are. In this case, creating a mission statement should be a relatively simple process as it’s mostly a matter of articulating what is already known. Start there.
If you are a new startup with lofty goals, starting with the vision of what you want to become might be a more logical starting point. In that case, write out your vision statement first.
Determining where to focus your efforts isn’t always a matter of how long you have been in business. You might be a longstanding company at a crucial junction of your history, and determining your future is the top priority. Perhaps you’re a relatively new organization that’s recently had a massive influx of new hires, in which case defining your current mission is critical.
In all cases, your HR team must be aligned with company leadership to understand where current priorities are and where there are gaps in understanding. When you understand those things, you’ll be confident where to begin.
Regardless of whether you need to start with your mission or vision, below are some tips for each.
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3 Tips for Creating an HR Vision Statement
Separate HR’s Vision Statement from the Company’s
It might be tempting to simply adopt the company’s vision statement. After all, HR is part of the company and should share the same goals, right? While that is true, HR has duties the company as a whole doesn’t share, and its mission and vision should reflect that.
Consider a few areas where HR teams can craft a more focused vision statement:
- Compliance – Teams communicate well and help each other stay accountable to ensure everyone stays compliant.
- Training – Every employee receives training that grows their skillset, makes them feel at home in the company’s culture, and keeps them aligned to the company’s mission.
- Paperwork – With the right HR tools and processes in place, HR is free to get paperwork and people work done well.
- Benefits – Every employee has a full understanding of — and full access to — their important benefits.
Make Sure Your Vision Statement Guides Your Strategy
Your vision statement should be a signpost that directs your activities. It should help you determine the value of new programs and initiatives when you strategize. And when you are tracking the effectiveness of different activities, you should reference your vision statement to know how valuable those activities were.
Focus on the Why
Your vision statement is a great place to say why you do the work you do, why it matters, and why those you serve can count on your work. The work HR does is important. It matters. If you can articulate why (especially in the context of your specific company) in a short, memorable couple of lines, you’ll be well on your way to having a great vision statement.
3 Tips for Creating an HR Mission Statement
Outline Your Department's Primary Responsibilities
Just as your company would list out all of its products and services to help define its mission, the same strategy applies to HR teams. List out all the functions and responsibilities of your department so that you have a full picture of the many ways your work impacts the organization as a whole. Chances are that, like most HR teams, you do a lot. With all the complexities that come from handling so much work, listing everything out will allow you to determine what are your highest priorities.
Identify What Makes Your HR Team Unique
Once the list is complete, you’ll likely spot some trends. Depending on your individual organization, your team will have a unique makeup. If your team places a heavy emphasis on a particular HR function (e.g. hiring and onboarding, compensation and benefits, employee performance, etc.) that should be reflected in your mission statement.
For example, let’s say you’re a growing company and the HR team carries a disproportionately heavy recruiting workload. Your mission might be something along the lines of, “We hire and retain the best people quickly so that our company can continue to grow without interruption.”
Think Like a Marketer
Marketers ask good questions, then do their best to answer them. So, who is your audience and why do they need to know your mission statement? What value will your mission statement play in keeping people and teams aligned? What are the pains that your HR team helps alleviate? Beyond just writing out a cut-and-dry definition of what your team does, write up a mission statement that will inspire your people on a regular basis.
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