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Category: Employee

Employee Loyalty

Chris Woolard

Implementing ROWE: A Case Study-Part 1

Last year, I wrote a blog about ROWE, Results Only Work Environment.  Through a networking group, I was introduced to Michael Reynolds, President and CEO of SpinWeb, an Indianapolis based web solutions firm.  Michael has implemented ROWE in his organization and I sat down with him to talk about the process and the impact it has had on his organization.  This blog will be focused more on the implementation and the principles.  Next week you can check back to read about the impact ROWE has had on his company. 

ROWE was implemented at SpinWeb about three years ago.  They were actually the first company in Indiana to implement ROWE.  As he was talking about some of the principles of ROWE, he specifically mentioned two areas I found interesting; meetings and the work itself. 

ALL meetings are optional, regardless of who sets up the meeting or the purpose of the meeting, meeting attendance is optional.  What this does is it cuts down on unnecessary meetings.  Let’s face it, we all spend part of every week in meetings that aren’t relevant to us or could have been accomplished with a couple of e-mails or phone calls.  Unnecessary meetings quickly stopped because employees stopped showing up.  This also forced the meeting organizer to create a clear agenda so others understood the purpose and desired outcomes of the meeting.  This allowed employees to spend more time accomplishing their objectives rather than wasting times in irrelevant meetings. 

Regarding work, Michael said all employees stop doing work they view as a waste of time.  The employee is trusted to make this decision.  If they view a part of their job as useless, they have the authority to stop it.  This requires employees to have a full understanding of the internal processes and ensure processes are incredibly efficient.  This, in turn, allows the employees to become more efficient in their job and work on the areas of greatest value to the company and the client. 

One big key to the success of ROWE is the role of management.  Management must do two things: they must trust their employees and they must set clear outcomes for its employees.  If they do not trust their employees, management will never fully allow them to make the decisions necessary for ROWE to be successful.  This requires management to put aside their egos and need for control, and truly trust their employees.  Secondly, management must be able to set clear outcomes for each employee so they know exactly what they are to accomplish.  This requires management to have a clear understanding of the business and the employees’ role in the business. 

A few other things I found interesting.  There is no set PTO policy.  People take off as they see fit.  If they want to catch a matinee movie or go play a round of golf, no problem.  As long as their outcomes are being met, when they work and how much they work is irrelevant.  SpinWeb actually has two types of vacations, Going Dark and Going Dim.  Going Dark means you are going off grid and you will not be accessible or checking in.  If an employee is Going Dark, they must coordinate with team members to ensure everything is covered.  Going Dim means you will be checking in while you are out and can move things along if needed. 

In my next blog, I will continue this interview and focus on the impact implementing ROWE has had on SpinWeb.  To learn more about ROWE, you can go to:

Chris Woolard

A New Level of Employee Loyalty

As many of you know who follow this blog, I like to write about creative and innovative things companies are doing to create and increase employee loyalty.  Well this week I think we might have one that is going to be hard to beat. 

At Anytime Fitness, they have monthly employee training sessions, that is not the creative part.  At these training sessions, they have an on-site tattoo artist who will tattoo the company logo on any part of ones' anatomy.  When I first read about this, I thought yeah that is great, but who would get a tattoo of their company logo, unless you work for a company like Harley Davidson and happen to own and ride Harleys. 

They have had over 350 people tattoo the logo on their body.  Did you catch that?  I said 350.  Wow, you want to talk about taking employee loyalty to a new level.  I am not sure what level of loyalty it is when employees are tattooing the company logo on their body but I think goes beyond the word loyalty. 

I know many of you aren't tattoo people, I am indifferent towards them, I know some people love them, my brother-in-law has several and one is a tattoo around his neck that looks like he got decapitated but then had his head sewn back on, not really my thing, but he likes it.  Do you feel so passionate about your company that you would tattoo your company logo on your body?  If you aren't a tattoo person, do you feel so passionate about your company that you would even recommend the company to others?  If not, why not, what is holding you back from that type of passion? 

Some of this passion is dependent on the employees, let's face it, some just have a bad attitude no matter where they work.  Employees have a responsibility to at least try to have a good attitude about their company and their job and not complain about everything the company does, as if they are the only ones smart enough to see and solve all of the problems at the company. 

I also recognize Senior Leaders have a responsibility to create a culture that stirs this type of passion.  They need to explain to employees where the company is headed, what their role in the company is, provide the resources necessary, and provide rewards and incentives.  Far too often Senior Leaders expect the passion they have to just rub off on others because they are in the same room.  There are some Senior Leaders I have been around that can do that, they just have that personality that after talking to them for five minutes, you would work for them for free.  However, for most of the Senior Leaders, this takes work.  It takes a conscience effort on their part to constantly reinforce the correct behaviors and rewards those behaviors.  Maybe by doing that, employees would be more likely to tattoo their logo on their parts.  If not a tattoo, maybe at a minimum it will improve employee loyalty, which in turn, will have a positive impact on employees' likelihood to recommend, go above and beyond in their job, and resist offers from other companies. 

So who knows, maybe this tattoo thing will be the new trend, maybe I will start it at Walker.



Walker TattooWalker Tattoo 2






Chris Woolard

Greatest Threats to Business Today

A recent survey by AON found the top ten biggest threats to business are as follows:

1.  Economic slowdown
2.  Regulatory/legislative changes
3.  Increasing competition
4.  Damage to reputation/brand
5.  Business interruption
6.  Failure to innovate/meet customer needs
7.  Failure to attract or retain top talent
8.  Commodity price risk
9.  Technology failure/system failure
10.  Cash flow/liquidity risk

Source: Aon Corporation

I love the failure to attract or retain top talent song as I have been singing that song for years now.  In 2009, this was number 10 and it is moving up the charts to number seven this year.  I continue to see numbers that indicate anywhere from a quarter to half of employees are going to be looking for a job this year.  There was also an article in USA Today last month that indicated employee loyalty is at a three year low. 

This is also significant when failure to innovate/meet customer needs made the top 10 list for the first time ever.  So failure to keep top talent is becoming an increasing problem and failure to meet customer needs is an increasing problem.  It seems to me that these two issues are probably going hand in hand, if you can't find talent, it will be come increasingly difficult to meet customer needs.  However, I continue to see companies that assume they are exempt to these issues.  Now there are some very good companies, doing some great things to keep employees, unfortunately these companies are few and far between. 

There are a number of new and exciting things companies are doing to keep their top talent.  Below are a few links to some blogs where these ideas are shared:

Companies that Get It

Netflix PTO Policy

I heart biomarketing and employee loyalty

Faith and Employee Loyalty

The worst thing you can do right now is do nothing and hope this storm passes over you.  I  know a company that is working on retention for a certain segment of employees.  While I don't feel they are working on the areas that will have the greatest impact on retention, but at least they are trying.  I  talked to a few employees in this segment and they said they appreciated they effort, they wished they were working on a few other issues, but they did appreciate that the company was at least trying.  My challenge for you today is do something, anything, today that will impact employee loyalty at your company.  


Chris Woolard

Can You Survive Without a Quarter of Your Employees?

Walker recently launched the Indiana Business Council with Inside INdiana Business.  The Council is comprised of almost 4,000 individuals from around the state of Indiana in a variety of industries, business sizes, and positions.  The first survey was focused on the 2011 Business Outlook and the results of which can be found here.

One of the questions we asked was how likely the respondent was to look for a job this year.  Of the staff level employees, these are the ones dealing with your customers on a daily basis, almost one in four said they were going to look for a new job this year. 

Everything I have read indicates it is the top talent that is most frustrated and most likely to change jobs.  I have also seen various statistics the top talent may produce as much as 60% of the work.  So while almost a quarter said they were going to leave, the impact on production could be far greater if those that are leaving are the very people you can least afford to lose.  

Another interesting finding in the study is while leaders expected an increase in demand for products and services, increase in sales, and increase in innovation, there would not be much of an increase in hiring.  So the employees that have already been asked to take on more work over the past couple of years are now going to be asked to take on even more.  This is probably why we also found only 37% of staff feel employee morale is going to improve.  Employees are growing increasingly frustrated and as the job market slowly opens up, employees are going to be very quick to find, presumably, greener pastures. 

For a few tips on what to do to prevent the impending turnover boom, you can read my blog on presenteeism I posted a couple of weeks ago:


Chris Woolard

I quit, I just haven’t left yet

I was playing golf with a buddy of mine the other day and I was asking him how work was going.  He said, "I quit my job, I just haven't left yet".  I thought wow, what a statement.  In talking with him, he did not feel there was much of a future for him so he was just waiting things out until he could find a new opportunity.  He was also tired of the Senior Leaders' attitude that they should be happy to have a job given the economy. 

When has this attitude of "you can't find another opportunity" ever worked?  If you are in a relationship with someone, you would never say you couldn't possibly find someone else so you better stick with me.  Why would that attitude possibly be acceptable in the work environment?  Leaders need to recognize there are opportunities available and it is their responsibility to ensure the organization is striving to be the best possible employer it can be.  As an example, check out this article on the wonderful attitude these leaders have about their employees.

These Senior Leaders get it. 

Chris Woolard

Walker’s Makes Best Places to Work List

While Walker is not a perfect company, I have been doing this for 10 years and have yet to find a perfect company, I think there are several things Walker does that other companies could learn from.  I have already covered the Paid Time Off Policy and the work itself.  In this blog, I am going to cover a potpourri of small things that all contribute to the overall culture of Walker.  

First is the flex-time.  At Walker, most of us can pretty much come and go as we please.  As long as we are hitting our goals of client related work and our clients our happy, we can come and go as we please.  Having three kids and one on the way, I cannot tell you what a blessing it is when something comes up at home to know I can leave and take care of my personal matters.  I recognize I need to make sure my work is done but it is such a relief to know I have that flexibility.  

Second are the free drinks.  This seems like one of those small, silly things but I do believe it helps contribute to the culture here.  Walker has free coffee (Starbuck's and Seattle's Best) along with free Pepsi products.  I do not drink coffee or too many Pepsi products except for Mountain Dew.  I firmly believe Mountain Dew is the nectar of the gods and drink way too much of it.  Maybe this is not such a perk since every evening I have a major sugar crash. 

Third is the dress code.  Walker has a casual dress code, which basically means wear a nice shirt and jeans.  There are times where I need to dress up and actually wear a shirt and tie probably at least once a week.  It is sure nice if I do not have any client facing meetings to know I can wear something really comfortable to work.  I know some companies are moving back to a more formal dress code as they feel it helps the employees have a more professional attitude and be more focused.  For me, I am very comfortable and relaxed in jeans and feel more productive because I am more comfortable.  If I could wear shorts and a t-shirt, I would do it in a second, which is probably a large reason why that is not allowed.

Fourth is the attitude of Senior Leaders.  All of the Senior Leaders are very approachable and down to earth.  That may seem like something that is very common, but having dealt with many Senior Leaders, I can assure you that is not the case.  They all say they have an open door policy, which is often talked about but rarely practiced.  I really feel like I can go to any of them at any time and ask them a question.  They also know us on a personal level. For example, I was talking to a Senior Leader a couple of weeks ago and he remembered how many kids I had, that we were foster parents, that we home school, and that my wife is a stay at home mom.  I was actually surprised because they have so many important things to keep track of, to remember intimate details of my family meant a lot.  This also makes me feel comfortable going to them with new thoughts and ideas as I know they will listen.