Keeping employees happy and motivated is an agenda item that is on everyone lips, but little action seems to be happening. As a result, Employee Engagement is slipping as well, which is a problem for Customer Experience.
The New York Times ran an article, “Why You Hate Work” that explains that the way we are working isn’t working for today’s employees. The article reports that a mere 30% of Americans “feel engaged at work,” according to the 2013 Gallup poll, leaving the remainder somewhere between indifferent and disgruntled.
To me, a great Customer Experience is only provided through employees that are engaged. The fact is when employees are happier, so are your Customers. When Customers are happy, they spend more money with you and you make more profits.
So the truth is, employee happiness and the resulting engagement is very important to you, even if it hasn’t been your priority of late.
What Wal-Mart and Google Show Us about Employee Engagement
Take Wal-Mart as an example. BusinessInsider.com ran an article about how the workers are planning a strike just before the Shareholder’s meeting a couple of months ago. The strike is about higher pay, better benefits, more full-time employment opportunities and the alleged retaliation measures taken against employees who dare to speak up about such things.
I don’t know if you have been to a Wal-Mart lately, but the fact is, the experience is less than stellar. I have written about it before, so I’m not going to get into the details. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that the fact that employees are striking across twenty cities this summer might have something to do with the change in service quality.
Here’s a look at their stock over the past year:
Source: Nasdaq.com on 10 September 2014
On the other hand, Google has great employee engagement. Their satisfaction rating by employees is 99%. Google, is well known for having an Empowered culture that encourages employees to take ownership in their role in the company’s success.
As a result, take a look at their stock price over the past five months:
Source: Nasdaq.com on 10 September 2014
Most of us like the look of the Google chart over the Wal-Mart chart! Of course, if you know the difference between Correlation and Causation, then you probably know that I haven’t exactly proven that employee engagement and stock price are directly related. Clearly, there are many other factors that go into a company’s stock price. Nonetheless, our intuition tells us that engaged employees produce more than employees that aren’t, and that affects the stock price.
What’s the problem?
Employees are a lot like customers in that their work experience is greatly influenced by their emotions and their subconscious. Actions that seem innocuous to management can be interpreted an entirely different way by the employees, resulting in any number of emotions that do not drive value for the relationship. These emotions can destroy the relationship your employees have with your organization the same way they do for customers.
In my post, “ Are You Making These Mistakes with Your Employees Today? ” I mentioned some of the everyday ways that we can hurt our employee’s motivation. One I didn’t include, but is a big mistake is gossiping behind your employee’s backs. HR expert, Suzanne Lucas, wrote about this mistake on Inc.com. She talks about how a boss can’t gossip about others in the office because it creates drama and take the focus off the important matters at hand.
I also think it’s a mistake to work with people that you can’t have a professional discussion with face-to-face. You need to like the people you are working with and be able to have frank discussions with them without creating drama and damaging the relationship.
How to Fix the Problem.
So yes, avoiding those leadership pitfalls is important, but also, each organization needs to design an Employee Experience that drives value for the employees and the organization.
We teach a regular course about Employee Engagement. The focus of our training is to make employee engagement happen in your organization as well as teaching you how to measure its effect on your bottom line. The idea here is that if you can make your employees happier at work, you will get their best work, which you can then show results to your executive team to support the importance of the effort. I can assure you that you won’t be using the stock price to measure your improvement, but the metric you do choose will have direct ties to the stock price.
How we feel affects how we perform. If we feel empowered, focused and appreciated, we are going to do a better job at anything we do, whether that’s stocking shelves at Wal-Mart or innovating how the world gets information like they do at Google.
Employee engagement is down these days—except at Google. The bad news is that this can result in poorer performance from them, a poorer Customer Experience, and ultimately poorer results for your stock price. The good news is that you can get them back on board with a little bit of a culture change that appeals to employee’s emotions and makes them feel happy and motivated.
When do you feel most engaged at work? What causes you to feel that? I’d be interested to hear your stories in the comments below.
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