“90% of organizations say employee engagement impacts business success, but 75% of organizations have no engagement plan or strategy.” - Accor Services
Companies are faced with so many priorities, from differentiating to win at customer experience to digital transformation to ensure customers have a positive experience interacting with their brands via their smart phones. But it’s important to remember that the customer experience starts when people begin interacting with your brand at any touch point. First impressions are lasting impressions.
Per the Accor Services finding, organizations clearly understand the role of employee engagement, but aren’t prioritizing it. Why, when higher levels of employee engagement correlate with better company performance? As Kevin Kruse’s visual depicts, companies with engaged employees will experience employees with a stronger customer orientation and higher levels of productivity and even satisfaction, which translates to lower employee turnover rates. And these companies will reap the rewards of higher customer satisfaction and loyalty and in turn meet their financial objectives of higher revenues and profits.
Source: Kevin Kruse, Employee Engagement: The Wonder Drug for Customer Satisfaction
Employee engagement is an important part of building a brand.
Brands thrive on satisfied customers, especially those highly influential ones who become ambassadors and promote the brands they love.
Brands that invest in employee engagement focus on a few key areas:
1 | Shared values: Organizations’ and employees’ values should align. Companies that hire employees who hold the same values and beliefs find these people thrive and best represent their brand.
2 | Develop a recognition system: Leading brands with a strong culture train and reward employees for demonstrating behaviors and actions representative of their company culture. Some systems involve both management and employees rewarding a peer for exemplary behavior. The system could be verbal recognition or point based, allowing one to save and redeem for a larger reward.
3 | System for frequent feedback: High-performing organizations don’t limit employee feedback to an annual review. It takes place daily, or at least weekly. High-performing sports teams huddle before practice and games. How would they perform and go on to compete in March Madness or the Super Bowl without doing so?
In the business world, B2C brands take cues from the sports playbook and hospitality leaders such as the Ritz Carlton. B2B brands should follow suit. The Ritz’s morning meetings, known as the Daily Line-Up, inform employees about the property’s daily activities, whether it is menu updates, guests on the premises or special events scheduled. This focuses on the Ritz’s Gold Standard service, “Often the person leading Line-Up shares a personal example of how he or she has demonstrated or witnessed this Gold Standard being expressed.”
While in a B2B environment you may not be huddling every day, there are principles to be adapted weekly or quarterly to ensure your team is connected and informed so they can perform their best as brand representatives.
4 | Create opportunities to grow and learn: One company’s employees could not remember its four key priorities. As soon as pop quizzes started happening in the hallways, allowing them to make a quick $20 on the spot, people started taking an interest in the priorities. Of course, it would be better if these employees had passion and deeply held values, as monetary incentives don’t go far enough. That company isn’t hiring for values, but for getting a job done, so their employee engagement most likely will continue to be lackluster.
Companies with high levels of engagement know that employees want to be educated, inspired and engaged and create connection plans to help them do so, such as through a monthly town hall to update on strategic priorities and hear from employees about ongoing projects or accomplishments achieved. It is creating teams and friendly competitions that showcase ideas and learning.
A few key questions to ask yourself as you evaluate whether and how to elevate your organization’s employee engagement:
Q: Am I treating employee engagement like it is a one-time event such as a sales meeting, a company outing or an annual performance review? Like any strategic initiative, it requires a strategy with clear objectives outlining tactics for connecting and rewarding employees, along with defining how success will be measured.
Q: Do all employees understand and really enliven the brand’s vision, mission and values? Or is it limited to a brand guide provided at orientation? It’s important that those on the front line—and across the organization—understand and embrace what the brand stands for. Even more effective is hiring based on employees holding the same values as the company.
Q: Are you creating opportunities to model the behavior you want customers to experience? Since people run companies, it’s critical to ensure that the employees understand that they are the heart of the organization, meaning their success is the company’s success and vice versa. And it’s about leading by example. We firmly believe that employees should be treated in the same manner that company leadership expects their customers to be treated. Is there a culture of respect, integrity and kindness—or whatever key attributes align with your brand—toward all employees from the smiling front desk receptionist to the C-suite and everyone in between?
Q: Do you have a systematic plan to educate, inspire and engage your sales force? With sales-driven organizations we find an opportunity exists to have a plan to systematically educate, inspire and engage the sales force while treating them as customers. Consumer-facing brands do this really well. For B2B brands, it means account executives aren’t just given product samples or solution demos and supporting white papers, all of which are great. Rather, it’s important to custom design retreats that are interactive and immersive experiences. Create a program that has them interacting with end users and learning from their top-performing peers. This approach should educate the sales team on the company, the product, a particular market segment, and that buyer and their personal opportunity. It’s a small investment that will make a significant impact to fuel their performance and contribute to your organization’s achieving higher revenue growth.
Be one of the 25% of companies reaping the rewards of making a worthwhile investment in improving their levels of employee engagement. What are you waiting for?
About C.E.K. & Partners
C.E.K. & Partners is a brand and strategy firm that the world’s most notable brands – across payments, financial services, health care and manufacturing – depend on when they seek market research, brand strategy, thought leadership and brand management. We develop programs that build brands and meaningfully connect them to customers in order to accelerate business growth.
Building a brand is an investment that requires energy and expertise – that’s why we’re here to help. Contact us at email@example.com or +1.404.345.6447.