IVY and its Impact on Your Business

IVY and its Impact on Your Business

Our Changing Work Environment

Successful companies make their employees successful. This is common knowledge. However, it is not so easy to do without understanding the fundamental forces at play.

A 2018 Neilson poll found over 50% of Canadian employees want to change jobs. In 2011, Psychometrics Canada study found 69% of Canadians indicated that engagement is a problem in their organizations. 43% of millennials expect to leave their job within two years, and only 28% expect to stay beyond five years, according to a 2018 Deloitte study. This is somewhat like playing on a hockey team where half of your players want to play for the other side, which is certainly not a winning scenario. The root cause of so much discontent eludes even the most seasoned managers. Let's look at why.

Why the lack of loyalty?

Without people, a business cannot exist. What is the particular purpose of your business, a purpose that will attract and retain a group of motivated employees? Are they loyal because your company makes the best widgets, or provides high quality repair services? While providing quality is important, something else may be motivating your employees to stay - or to leave.

Let us introduce the concept of "IVY" (pronounced like the plant /ˈīvē/). IVY stands for Ideal Vision of Yourself. It is how you see your future self, in a positive light. Everyone has an ideal vision of themselves. It could be something small, such as wanting to lose a few pounds, or something larger, such as wanting to become company CEO. It may be something emotional, such as finding love, or something practical, such as paying off a mortgage. It is IVY that makes us get up in the morning, and it is why we show up for work everyday. Although it can change, grow, or shrink, it is always there, moving us forward. It is not what we are doing - it is what we want to become. It is the motivation underlying everything we do - the partners we choose, the jobs we seek, the cars and homes we purchase.

IVY Alignment

If an employee's IVY is misaligned with that of their employer, all that may remain as a motivator is the money they earn, and countless studies have shown that money is a very poor motivator for almost everyone. On the other hand, if an employee's IVY is aligned with that of their employer, motivation skyrockets. If the employee perceives the job they have as the best means to get themselves from where they are to where they want to be - their IVY - they will do more than what is asked, and won't even consider playing for the other team. This is what is called "IVY Alignment". If the company and the employee want the same thing, great things happen. Additionally, if IVY Alignment is consistent across most employees within a company, instead of employees pulling the company in different, often opposing directions, the team will all be pulling in one direction, which accelerates the company forward. Occasionally we hear about companies rising seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes we may associate this to luck, or being at the right place at the right time. In many cases, it was because the company gave their employees the opportunities they needed, and this was aligned with what the company required. In a manner of thinking, the company acts as an "IVY vehicle" for all those working within it, owners, managers, and all employees. The better the vehicle, the faster it travels.


Not having IVY Alignment within your company can make managing staff frustrating. There may be a constant pressure pushing you toward increasing degrees of micromanagement, which increases overhead costs and reduces margins.

Society is changing rapidly, and the concept of a "career" in not the same for the new generation as it was for their parents. The promise of a long career in one company capped off with an easy retirement on the golf course is the furthest thing from the minds of today's youth. University and college graduates are in abundant supply, and they are eager to work for companies where they can make a difference and grow. They are seeking employers that offer personal growth opportunities: IVY Opportunities.

So, if IVY Opportunities and IVY Alignment are the solution, how does a company change to accommodate these concepts?

Solving the Problem

An employer typically has minimal influence on defining the IVYs of their employees. However, employers can create an IVY friendly environment where people are more aware and open about who they are trying to become. Employers can help guide employees to take particular paths in their IVY journeys, however each person's IVY is a very personal thing. Typically, employees come with an IVY the day they were hired. Also, IVYs are not static. They change throughout people's lives. Much like how water and wind currents allow a sailboat to sail - even while they change in direction and magnitude - varying and changing IVYs are forces to work with, instead of against. The best way to do this is to create as many IVY Opportunities as possible.

IVY Opportunities

An IVY Opportunity is a scenario facilitating the matching of a particular business need, to a particular employee's IVY (or job candidate). The more IVY Opportunities, the more likely IVY matches will occur, which increases the probability of greater overall IVY Alignment. How does an employer create IVY Opportunities and encourage matches? By being open, trusting, honest, and flexible. If the company clearly communicates what it requires, and employees work in a psychologically safe environment where they can freely talk about their needs, then the IVY Opportunities will be greater compared to the competition. This will attract the best job candidates, and IVY Alignment will increase naturally.

Ask questions such as:

  • What are your long term plans, after you may have left the company? Can the company help you get there faster?
  • Why did you decide to work here instead of other companies? How does that impact your long term plans?
  • What tools, information, or resources can the company provide to make your job more interesting, more rewarding?
  • What is your ideal job/business? Can the company make changes to help bring you closer to that ideal?

Few employees stay at companies for more than 5 years. The best option is to make those 5 years as productive as possible. Sometimes we are surprised to find employees growing within their IVYs stay for much longer.

Further reading

Ucora has studied and documented a progression of five levels companies goes through as they transition from low IVY Alignment to high IVY Alignment. Level 5 companies are able to achieve sustained growth rates of 20% per year. Each level in this progression has a set of barriers preventing entry, and a specific set of services focused on reducing and overcoming these barriers. These methods form part of Ucora's PEARS management practices, which is supported by our GamePlanPro™ workflow platform.