|Loyalty in the Workplace By Chris Woolard
Chris Woolard, Walker's employee loyalty expert shares his thoughts on all things related to employees and the workplace.
I have blogged several times about the link between employee behaviors and customer behaviors. I wanted to provide a real life example, back in March we had a house fire. Our outside A/C unit blew up and caught the side of the house on fire in the middle of the night. I was woken at 1:00 AM by the sound of a policeman banging on my door yelling at me to get my family out because my house was on fire. That was probably one of the most frightening experiences of my life. When we had the fire, the fireman said, "Well, now you will see how much you like your insurance." We had State Farm and I have learned, I hate State Farm. You are probably thinking, interesting story but what does this have to do with employee loyalty and employee-customer linkage.
I have been living the employee-customer link over the past five months, and not in a good way. Our claims adjuster (or really anyone from State Farm) is not exhibiting any of the behaviors one would expect from a loyal employee. Now, can I say for a fact that he has low employee loyalty, well obviously without having data I can't. However, I know that employees who are loyal to their companies tend to exhibit very positive behaviors, those behaviors will be seen by customers and customer behavior will correspond accordingly. I am not seeing any positive behaviors, in fact, it has been just the opposite. I have been a State Farm client for more than15 years and as of last week, I am no longer a State Farm customer. When I called a different company to get insured and told her what was happening (but without telling her who I was with), her response was, "So you are with State Farm aren't you? I have over half my clients from former State Farm customers." This tells me this problem is not isolated, and also tells me they probably have some larger culture and organizational issues going on. It is really quite sad. When someone goes through an experience like this, it is incredibly stressful and can be difficult to manage. So if someone is just remotely responsive and nice to deal with, it would go a long way. There was an opportunity for State Farm to gain my respect for years to come but given the experience, I have gone out of my way to make sure people know what an awful experience it has been.
So what is the takeaway? I coach middle school soccer right now and one of the things I try to teach the kids is keep your head up and always pay attention to what is going on around you and learn from what is going on around you. Every opportunity we have is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and to learn something about how we should treat others. Companies need to learn from what is going on around them, by this I mean VoC information, employee engagement info, etc. More importantly, they must be willing to act on the information, no matter what it tells them. We have proven that companies that do this, outperform the marketplace 8:1, not a bad return.
Several years ago, I wrote a blog about weird things to say in an interview. Recently I have been helping out by interviewing some candidates for a position at Walker. Several of them have been pretty good but several were not. I recognize I just wrote a blog that the job market for skilled individuals is in great shape, but candidates should still be polished and prepared in an interview.
As I interviewed these people, I discovered I have several pet peeves when I interview candidates:
1. Don't try to dodge questions, given an open and honest answer and nothing else, most of the time we can see through the dance.
2. Anyone here knows it really bugs me when a candidate does not have any questions for us. We are a consulting company and what I believe we are hired to do is to be inquisitive, ask questions and seek out answers. Not having any questions in an interview makes me question one's ability to be insightful with our clients. It also makes me question the preparedness of the interviewer.
3. When asked what you know about Walker, DO NOT say, "Nothing really". At least take 30 seconds and go online and come up with something.
4. Don't write a novel as a resume, keep it to key facts and key accomplishments, a resume is not to share everything you have ever done since high school.
I saw this article recently and thought it might be time for anyone reading this blog to brush up their interviewing skills if they are one of those almost 25% that plan to look for a job in the next six months.
What pet peeves do you have? What have you seen work well?
So with that, good luck and happy job hunting.
I have spoken to many HR professionals who talk about the difficulty of finding talent, even with high unemployment. Well buckle up because it is just going to get worse, which is bad for HR but if you are a highly skilled employee, is good for you. Mike Hicks, Director for the Center for Business and Economic Research, recently spoke at Walker and then was interviewed on Inside Indiana Business. He has been studying job markets during the past several recessions and has concluded we are at an unprecedented time where the jobs of low skilled employees are not coming back, leaving these employees in a difficult position. What it also does is place a premium on employees with key skills as the Indiana economy shifts from a manufacturing economy to a more service based economy. Employees who are educated will be in demand as organizations will not be able to find the critical positions due to lack of employees with necessary talent.
This will also place a premium on employee loyalty and keeping top talent as it is going to be increasingly difficult to replace the loss of top talent. Therefore, companies must get rid of the traditional ways of doing work and come up with new and creative ways to work. I predict a fundamental shift in how work is done in the future, by that I mean no longer the traditional 8-5 in the office Monday-Friday, and I also don't mean the traditional come in, do your work and get your paycheck. Work is going to becoming increasingly flexible and more give and take will happen in the workplace. The reason is, if you aren't progressive in work and the workplace, employees will find a company that is, it will become a recruiting tool and a way to improve employee engagement and loyalty.
I wrote a blog containing a pictograph of employee loyalty, I think it might be time for many HR and business leaders to becoming familiar with this, because this is the challenge they will be wrestling with more and more.
I recently conducted a radio interview on the 5 R's of employee loyalty and retention with MyLocalJobNetwork.com, this was the second interview with them. The first interview can be heard here. This interview were based on the HBR article I blogged about previously and we discussed the 5 R's of employee loyalty along with some employee loyalty trends in the national workforce right now. To listen, click here.
Indiana, as a state, is fat. According to the CDC:
- 65.9% of adults are overweight, with a Body Mass Index of 25 or greater
- 29.6% of adults are obese, with a Body Mass Index of 30 or greater
With the rampant obesity problem and the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more emphasis is being put on wellness. I see a lot of companies talk about wellness, but last night on the news, I saw a company that not only preached about wellness, but is taking steps to do what they can to improve the wellness of their employees. The company is Brown & Brown, Indiana's largest employee benefits company. It is encouraging to see a company that provides wellness consulting and expertise with its clients, actually practicing what it preaches. They have purchased two treadmill desks where the employees can sign up for half an hour blocks. I spoke with Andrew Lockerbie, SVP at Brown & Brown, and at first they weren't sure how receptive employees will be to utilizing these desks but the slots are full weeks out and the treadmill desks are almost always in use. He is a regular user of it and has been able to shed a few of those unwanted winter pounds just by walking a couple of miles a day. You can view the video here.
At Walker, they pay for a portion of a gym membership, which I love. I would never join a gym but when they began paying for a large portion of it, I was quick to sign up and regularly work out over lunch, of course that led to a major knee injury which I blogged about here. We have also recently begun offering fruit, granola bars, oatmeal and other healthy snacks and will pay for entry fees into marathons, mini-marathons, triathlons, etc.
So my blog is about employee loyalty, what does wellness have to do with employee loyalty? One of the key drivers of employee loyalty is a company that shows genuine care and concern about an employee. Providing opportunities easy methods of being healthier is a way to show you care about the employee. It is also helps differentiate the company from the competition so if any employee is looking for a job, or receiving an offer for a job, it is one of the perks that would need to be factored in when deciding to leave or stay. It is kind of sad that companies have to make it easy for employees to exercise but that is the state we are in and companies that are doing it, will be differentiated from others in the marketplace and it will help attract talent.
I saw this article this week on how much time is wasted at work. According to this article, almost 50% of employees waste between one and five hours a day on non-work websites and 64% visit non-work websites every day. I have seen articles like this before, especially when college basketball tourney is going on and how much time is wasted, blah, blah, blah. The article states, "Yet time is precious, and every hour spent on non-work related activities impacts the bottom line." Really, is it really impacting the bottom line? How do you know, are they not getting their job done, THAT is the question that needs to be asked.
My question to all of this is, "Who cares?" If organizations are giving their employees specific objectives to accomplish, and then ensuring those tasks are accomplished and if not, working to determine what changes need to happen to ensure the tasks get done, who cares how much time is spent on non-work related websites. This is the entire problem I have written about before on caring too much about the hours worked and caring too little about what actually gets accomplished. I have a buddy of mine who was just told to really stay at the organization, he needed to work 60 hours a week. What about telling him the specific things they needed him to accomplish in the next 90 days and then let him figure out how long that will take. Yeah, he left and found a better job.
However, I do like the last page of the article where it mentions the problem being employees aren't challenged enough. That I would agree with. And I really like this "[t]here are those who are fully engaged in their work, who are given incentives to do better, who are satisfied with their career, are not bored — these are all reasons why people work hard, and the converse is true. If they’re bored or unsatisfied or feel like they’re working too many hours or are not motivated enough, that’s management’s role to try to fix that." Although the employee has a role in this too, they can't just sit back and expect their boss to notice they are bored. They need to be proactive and determine their career path and then take steps to move along that path.
In a recent HBR article, the authors give five things companies need to be doing to retain employees. You might be wondering why employee loyalty is important right now. It is important because they found 40% of employees plan to start looking for a new job and 69% are passively looking for a new job right now. Obviously there is a big difference between looking for a new job and actually leaving a company. However, I have found once someone starts to disconnect by seeing what is available, their loyalty is impacted and they eventually believe the grass is greener somewhere else. I know there are some who find out what they have is pretty good, but I believe many have the perception that somewhere else is better than where they are so they begin to disconnect and ultimately, leave the organization.
The authors give five things (and I think these five are a great summary) to do to keep employees:
1. Responsibility. This does not mean you pile on to what the employee is already doing, but find strategic things that help the company, while developing the employee.
2. Respect. I think this is pretty straightforward conceptually, unfortunately not always executed daily.
3. Revenue-sharing. I have blogged about this before, I love this, and ensures everyone has skin in the game and motivates employees at all levels to help the company be successful.
4. Reward. While this is similar to revenue-sharing, this goes beyond just compensation but finding ways to reward the employee on a more personal level.
5. Relaxation Time. I have blogged about this before with ROWE or in companies that don't have formal time-off policies. Employees need to have time to get away and relax as it will ultimately make them more productive.
Like I said, I think this is a great, concise way to remember key things that will drive employee loyalty and ultimately organizational success.
I recently conducted a radio interview with LocalJobNetwork.com radio on the state of employee loyalty. One of the things I liked about the discussion was we got into the role of both the employer and employee in having a loyal workforce. Far too often the emphasis is on what the organization should be doing to foster employee loyalty but employees have a role in it too. I think too often employees can have the type of attitude where nothing the organization does is ever good enough, Senior Leaders are clueless, and there is no future for them at the company. Now, there are a lot of companies where these are all true, but I think in a lot of companies the Senior Leaders aren't entirely clueless and companies may try to do the right thing, it may not be perfect but there is an effort to try to take care of the employees, even in some small ways. So click here listen to this radio interview and let me know your thoughts on employee loyalty being a two-way street.
Last month I blogged about how the Business Confidence Index is at its lowest. I have seen the results for the latest survey and it does not look like things are improving, nor do I think they will until the election is over (at the earliest). During these times, it is common for someone to feel Trapped in their job. To learn a little more about Trapped employees, you can go to a previous blog. Trapped employees are difficult in the workplace because often times they are fulfilling a job, they may not be a star, but they are probably getting the job done. However, it is the attitude and other behaviors that go along with these Trapped employees that is the problem. I was sent this article which delves into some of the psychological aspects of a Trapped employee.
I really like the idea that when things are great, we assume we did it. When things are bad, we assume it is an external factor. I think often one of the external factors that gets blamed is the company. There is no doubt companies are at fault and can help the situation, but the employees have some responsibility in this equation to check their attitude at the door and be appreciate of the opportunities they do have. Here is a blog I wrote a while ago that I think gets at the Trapped employee, only from the prospective of a sea lion, yeah, you read that right.
In these times, I think it is imperative to take time to measure employee loyalty. You can easily identify the percentage of Trapped employees and get specific recommendations to make these employees more loyal to the company. The question I get asked all the time is, "Will the employee really be honest?" The answer is, "Absolutely." You would be shocked at the honesty I have seen on employee surveys. You always have your cynics and your people who treat it as a joke, but I really believe the vast majority of employees do take these surveys to heart and provide open and honest feedback. They want to be excited about the work and the potential they have at the company. Companies just need to take the time and money to talk to the employees.
We recently conducted a survey of Indiana business leaders and employees, this is something we do about every other month on different topics. The latest survey was on employee issues and perceptions employees had of their employers. One of the things we measure every survey is the Business Confidence Index. This is a one number wrap up of how confident employees and business leaders are in their business. Specifically, it measures three aspects of business, demand for products, relationship with customers, and relationship with employees. The Business Confidence Index for this latest survey, conducted in July, is 58%. That is the lowest the Business Confidence Index has ever been since we started measuring it in December of 2010.
One of the measures of the Business Confidence Index is perceptions that employee morale will increase in the next six months. Only 42% felt employee morale would increase, the lowest it has ever been.
We also measured loyalty by key roles in the organization and say a significant decline in loyalty for Middle Managers and Supervisors. Middle Managers dropped from 55% to 41% Truly Loyal and Supervisors dropped from 45% to 39% Truly Loyal.
Clearly this trend is not ideal and I think a lot of companies are going to be feeling the crunch of key talent being very frustrated and potentially leaving the organization. In fact, when asked about one in four Middle Managers and one in three Supervisors planned to look for a job in the next year.
The times right now are very uncertain and a lot of business leaders and employees are concerned and worried about the future of their business and themselves. Unfortunately, I do not see much of an improvement until after the election and things, hopefully, begin to stabilize.
I friend of mine, Nancy Ahlrichs with Flashpoint HR, just wrote a good article about whining in the workplace. You can find the article here. We have all been in meetings, or around colleagues, where they have a list a mile long of all of the things wrong with the company, the project, the team, etc. However, rarely do these individuals offer solutions, or if they do offer solutions, they would be impossible to implement because they do not have a good grasp of the situation. Now we all have bad days, but I am not talking about that, I am talking about those that you know in every meeting are going to be the one being critical and draining the life out of those around them. Nancy provides five ways to help these whiners below (she provides more insight into each of these into her article).
1. Hold one-on-one meetings weekly or every other week with each staff member.
2. Resist rescuing the whiner.
3. Set ground rules for all meetings.
4. Teach high Emotional Intelligence (EI) communication.
5. Follow through. If the ground rules say, “No complaints without solutions,” stick to it. Remember, no whining!
Basically what it boils down to is a manager issue. The manager needs to ensure there is an opportunity for open and honest dialogue between the employees so if they have a complaint, they can bring it up to them, and not feel as though their only option is to bring it up the complaints in meetings. If they have someone who is continually negative, they need to have that difficult conversation with the employee about their attitude and what the real problem is.
What are your thoughts? Do you deal with a lot of whiners in your workplace? If so, does it get dealt with or ignored?
Also, to learn more about Nancy or Flashpoint HR, you can click here.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP is one of the largest and most respected law firms in Indiana, and the Indianapolis office has approximately 490 staff. Barnes & Thornburg made the list of Best Places to Work in Indiana for the third time earlier this year. It was the second time in three years that the firm has been listed as the No. 1 large company in central Indiana.
I talked to Laura Miller, deputy HR director at Barnes & Thornburg, to find out how a professional services organization like hers has been able to get, and stay, on the list. She said the biggest reason they make the list is their office culture. They have a culture that is very caring and supportive of the employees, and that all starts at the top with their senior leadership. Culture is one of those aspects of the company that is going to happen regardless if it is fostered or not. Fortunately, leadership at Barnes & Thornburg takes the time to really foster a culture where the employees are truly cared about.
A perfect example of this has been on occasion when an employee has had a significant life event, including major health issues. The employees have rallied around employees, providing emotional support, and in some cases, financial support. One big reason this culture exists is that many people are long-term employees who have very strong friendships throughout the organization. The firm sometimes will have specific events where employees can bond at a more social level. In the past, this has included the following:
- An annual picnic (so employees and their families can spend time together with co-workers)
- An annual Holiday Party
- A Fall Service Awards Dinner
-Monthly staff meetings
-Lunch & Learn gatherings about interesting topics, including anything from financial tips to health tips
-Community service days (Heart Walk, Day of Caring, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)
In speaking with Laura, the biggest takeaway for me was everything started at the top. Without the support and cultivation of the culture by the leaders of the company, the culture of the organization would never be where it is today. Likewise, without the special culture of Barnes & Thornburg, it would have never made the Best Places to Work list. As I mentioned earlier, every organization has a culture, some just choose to foster and develop a specific kind of culture, others let it happen on its own. Those that foster and nurture their culture will have employees who are more loyal, attract top talent, and I believe, will ultimately be more successful than those who just let the culture take on a life of its own.
An article in a recent Indiana Business Journal talks about companies that do not have a formal time off policy. This is especially relevant today as I am sitting at my desk looking at at the beautiful blue sky with temperatures in the very comfortable 70s. Do I have a full day of work ahead of me? Absolutely. Do I need to have all of it done today? Probably not. About half of my to-dos need to be done today and the rest could get done over the weekend.
Walker is very generous with their PTO so if I wanted, I could try to leave early and they are flexible with their work schedules so I could leave early and just finish a few things from home. However, I think about a friend of mine who is fairly high up, very respected in his field, and only gets two weeks vacation. On top of that he works a lot of hours so not only does he not get much vacation, but he works quite a bit. When I talk to him he does not really complain, he just accepts it and keeps doing a great job for his company. Even f he had unlimited vacation, I am sure he would not take it. But that is the point, why not give the employees the choice? If you answer no, let me try to understand this. You do not trust them to make good decisions with how they use their time, but you trust that they will make good decisions with all other aspects of their job and make good decisions when it comes to working with your customers. Is that right?
I was sent another article on this very topic and it speaks to how unlimited vacation actually INCREASES productivity, did you catch that? I said INCREASES.
i was debating this with a friend of mine. He felt that companies with no formal PTO policy would use that as a way to overwork their employees as there would be no way to track how much vacation was used, or use it to poorly evaluate an employee that was taking a lot of vacation. He felt employees would then take less vacation and actually work more. Since there is nothing that would indicate how many more days they have left to use, they would just expect them to always be at work. I disagree and feel if a company is progressive enough to not have a formal PTO policy, they are going to trust their employees to get their work done.
I actually know some people that work in this environment and love it. They feel they have so much flexibility to manage life and work and feel so inspired because the company shows they trust the employee by empowering them to manage their work as they see fit. I know I have blogged about this before and I have heard people say this won't work for all positions, yes, I don't want my dentist taking off before my appointment because he decided to take some vacation. I don't want to sit on the phone for hours because no one is around in customer service. I think for a lot of companies, the question to ask is, "Why won't this work?" but, "How could this work?"
What do you think? Would employees working for a company with no PTO policy work more?
Walker has a new employee, Star. She is a beautiful Lab/Retriever mix with a great disposition. Star is not a pet but is being trained to be a service dog. Star is a puppy that is currently part of an organization called ICAN. ICAN is the only organization in Indiana to use the prison system to train dogs. Once the dogs are trained, they are placed with all kinds of handicapped individuals (including recently training a dog to alert the owner with diabetes when their sugar is too low).
I always enjoy walking by the office where Star is to pet her, it just kind of brightens up the day. No matter what is going on, there is something about playing with Star that just seems relaxing and allows you to take your mind of the day for just a few minutes.
I had a client years ago that had a company dog. It was a very laid-back dog and when you first walked in, it spooked you a bit because this dog just walked up to you. Then you realize how sweet the dog was and how nice it was to have a dog walking around while you were meeting.
A recent article confirms the benefits of having a pet at work. Obviously this would not work everywhere, I have a son that is highly allergic to most dogs and cats. Clearly that would need to be considered before bringing in a pet to the workplace. I know there are other factors that would prevent something like this. However, my point is this is just another creative thing companies are doing to make the workplace just a little better, which is going to lead to improved employee loyalty.
I am sure you all remember my blog from a couple of weeks ago where I wrote about the results of a recent study we conducted that found companies plan to increase hiring. This study was conducted in Indiana only. I just happened to read another company has confirmed what we found across the nation.
This study is an ongoing study by Manpower and they have been tracking the employee outlook for a number of years. They calculate what is called the Net Employment Outlook, which is the percent that say they are going to increase hiring minus the percent that are going to decrease hiring. The Net Employment Outlook is at 10% which is the first time it has been in the double digits since Q1 of 2008. This also marks a considerable jump from the low of -2% in 2009.
A few other interesting findings:
-All industries had a positive Net Employment Outlook
-18% of companies said they were going to increase hiring
-For those of you in North Dakota, the future is especially bright with an outlook of 26%, the highest of all states and a jump of 14%
-The states with the most positive Net Employment Outlook after North Dakota are Alaska, Vermont, Delaware, and Oklahoma
As I mentioned in my previous blog, not everyone they are hiring are people who are unemployed. There will be some pirating of talent from other companies. This is why having employee loyalty is so critical right now. Employees are more likely to resist offers from other companies when they have high degrees of employee engagement. How do you improve employee engagement? The answer is simple, ask the employees. I have found when employees feel responses will be kept confidential, they will be pretty open and honest about what could be improved. However, I only recommend that you take the time to ask employees if you are willing to take action on the results, otherwise you could do more harm than good.
A colleague sent me this picture below put together by National Business Research Institute (the full article can be found here). I thought it was a very clever, and easy to understand illustration of employee engagement, its impact, and its drivers. I also think it has some great info, specifically over half say they will definitely leave. Our research confirms that one of the top reasons why someone leaves is there is no room for advancement. What stands out to you?
I have been blogging for some time that eventually the dam will burst and employees will start moving around. I think the dam is starting to leak. We recently conducted a survey of Indiana business leaders and asked if they were going to increase hiring in the next year. The percent of those indicating they were going to increase hiring went up 7 percentage points compared to 2011 (to read more about this study go to www.indianabusinesscouncil.com) . I recently saw a study by Young Presidents Organization (YPO). This is organization of, as you can guess, presidents of organizations that are below a certain age. This study asked these presidents about various aspects of their business; sales, fixed investments, and employee count. In this study, more than 30% said they planned to increase hiring by at least 10% over the next year, with more than 10% saying they will increase hiring by 20% or more. So who do you think they are going to hire? Sure some of the unemployed will get snatched up but the majority of these hires will be companies pilfering the top talent from other companies, your top talent.
As business leaders you have a couple of choices here. You can turn away and ignore the dam and explain it away. You can try to put your finger in a few of the holes in hopes that it will get you by. Or you can put up some bricks and mortar to reinforce the dam, the bricks and mortar is called employee loyalty. By measuring what employees are looking for in their job and from their company, you can take the appropriate action that will have an impact on employee loyalty and the organization as a whole. We know for a fact that loyal employees are less likely to leave an organization and more likely to resist offers. We also know these employees are more likely to speak highly of the company, help out co-workers with heavy workloads, support the strategy of the organization, and go above and beyond in their job. The graph below is from a national employee loyalty study from several years ago but it clearly illustrates that loyal employees are more likely to exhibit positive behaviors.
Several weeks ago I shared a blog from Slingshot SEO's CEO, Jay Love, about the advantages of a four day work week. He is back at it with another great blog about employee recognition. I would recommend reading the entire post but I have posted his five types of recognition below. What most companies do is maybe one or two of these. Why not do ALL of these, they should not cost that much and will have a huge impact on employee loyalty.
- Quarterly reviews. Mandate one-on-one feedback sessions between each supervisor and team member on a quarterly basis. To ensure these are effective, have each manager carve out one hour for each employee. (At Slingshot SEO, we review the status of each quarterly goal and career objective, as well as take the time to chat to know each other better. The goals and any progress are summarized in a simple feedback form.)
- Peer recognition. Each month, I solicit open nominations for Slingshot SEO’s Outstanding Team Member of the Month. Each employee with at least 60 seconds to spare can e-mail me with their recommendations. Although just two are publicly honored at each monthly meeting, many others are encouraged by this program: I always forward the e-mails of the remarkable kudos to all the nominees along with a few comments of my own.
- Team highlights. Insist on your department heads sharing stories from their departments and highlighting the achievements of team members at the monthly All-Company Meeting. Lively presentations that include photographs, videos and client comments make this one even better!
- Yearly awards ceremony. Hold an Annual Award Event for your organization. (We award a Rookie of the Year, Most Improved, Innovator of the Year and Employee of the Year, plus we invite our Customer of the Year and Partner of the Year to make the event memorable.)
- Spontaneous kudos. Insist that every supervisor works hard to catch a team member doing something right or special as they wander around or peruse communications. When they do, have them point it out in front of the person’s peers or via departmental e-mail. (The more often the better, but beware… large smiles might take over your office.)
Love, J. “5 Ways to Reward Your All-Stars”. Inc., February, 8, 2012. http://admin.inc.com/2012/02/08/5-ways-to-reward-your-all-stars/
Too many companies focus on the employees that are struggling or a "problem" and completely forget about the top performers. In fact, most companies would be better served giving time and attention to the top performers as they will have a greater return to the company.
(yes, my kids are Bears fans, which does not make me happy)
As I was down there, a colleague of mine e-mailed me some links about the company that makes footballs for the NFL, Wilson Sporting Goods. These footballs are what are used in almost every football game across the country and are considered the best out there. I actually owned one for a while and someone stole it from my garage so apparently they are pretty valuable.
As I read about the company, it is quite amazing what they do to get the footballs ready for the Super Bowl which you can read about here. What is more impressive is the apparent employee loyalty at this company. If you look at some of these videos you will hear people talk about being part of the company for 40 years or more, and they seem excited to talk about Wilson and their job. You listen to Willie talk about the bladder in this video and you can just see the pride he has when he talks about his job, it is inspiring. Look at how long many of those employees have been there. Generally in a manufacturing environment, employee loyalty can be lower than other industries so to have what seems to be very high employee loyalty is quite impressive.
Think about this for a second, do you take such pride in what you produce, be it either a good or service? Probably not. Why is that? Are you not proud of the products and services you produce? My guess is you are. Too many of you what you do probably feels like a job, that is why it is critical for Senior Leaders to articulate the bigger picture and then for managers to help employees understand their role and how they impact the organization overall and when possible, community and society as whole. For example, I heard about a company that produces products and technology to help improve animal wellness and productivity. However, they talk about their mission really being to help impact world hunger. Talk about being motivated to do your job, if you can take it past the day-to-day activities and how they are impacting something bigger than themselves, that is how you get someone excited about their job.
*Just to clarify, the only time I have been asked for an autograph is when I was 13 and did some freestyle biking at a local church to a group of elementary and middle schoolers and one of them came up and asked for my autograph.
I truly believe the way we do work is going to shift dramatically over the next decade. Things like ROWE , compressed work weeks, etc., will be the norm, not the exception. (If you don't know what ROWE is, I have blogged about this several times here, here, and here.) Companies who understand this will try to stay ahead of the curve and work to see how these innovative work structures can be implemented now, rather than waiting until their top talent is gone in favor of these environments.
Let me give you a real life example that just happened last week. A friend of mine is currently looking for a job. One of the companies he was talking to said they are moving to ROWE in Q2. He specifically said that with all things being equal between different companies, he would go with this company because of the work environment. In fact, he went on to say he was so excited by ROWE that he would be willing to take slightly less to have the flexibility in his work schedule that ROWE affords.
In the upcoming battle on talent, and yes there will be one once the economy opens up, work environment issues will attract the necessary top talent and if all other things are equal, could tip the scales in companies obtaining the talent necessary to be successful in the future.
So again I challenge you, stop thinking it won't work and take a few minutes to think about how it could work. If you refuse to, you will be left behind in the war on talent.