Competition is the natural state of business. As your organization strives to drive profits, win customers, and lead in your industry, you know your competitors are also focused on the same crown. It’s vital for executives to recognize which factors most influence your competitive success, and focus on those factors above all.
When you look at today’s business royalty—leading companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple—you see a common focus on employee loyalty. The most competitive companies are those that recruit, engage, and most importantly retain the best talent. By focusing on employee morale to keep workers loyal, your company will see competitive benefits like improved customer experience, stronger business performance, and better financials.
What aspect of your business is most essential to a great customer experience? Great products, superior marketing, and sophisticated technology all help, but the strongest driver of a great customer experience is employee satisfaction. Each one-star improvement in a company’s Glassdoor rating corresponds to a 1.3 point out of 100 improvement in customer satisfaction scores, and this effect is more than twice as large in industries where employees frequently interact with customers. The implication is clear: happy and loyal employees lead to happy and loyal customers.
To create a successful customer-first strategy, building employee morale is a vital starting place. So what does the most to improve employee morale? The knee-jerk response is better compensation and benefits, but a recent Glassdoor report found that only 12 percent of U.S. employees said this mattered most to their job satisfaction. In contrast, the most important factors to employee satisfaction were company culture and values, senior leadership, and career opportunities. The takeaway is clear—to get the best out of your employees, give them a sense of purpose inside the company, lead by example, and reward their loyalty with a great career path.
Even if most of your workforce doesn’t directly interact with customers, focusing on employee morale has a strong effect on productivity and business performance. As we just mentioned, having a sense of company purpose helps employees feel happier and more motivated at work—but a key counterweight to this drive is instilling a culture of work/life balance. Your highly motivated and passionate employees are susceptible to burnout from overwork, making them more likely to take to sick days. At the same time, employees who feel they have a positive work-life balance are more productive by 21 percent than those who don’t feel that way.
In short, instilling a culture of work/life balance is great for both your employee morale and productivity across your organization. Some proven ways to promote work/life balance in your organization are providing options for remote work, implementing flexible work hours, and building mindfulness time into daily schedules s your staff can unplug and focus on more creative and innovative projects. All these tactics help your employees be happier and more engaged at work, which drives the productivity and innovation that help your organization lead its competition.
After reading how happy employees drive better customer engagement and business productivity, it’s no surprise improving morale also benefits your company’s financial performance. Glassdoor estimates a one-star improvement in an employer’s rating by employees corresponds to an increase of 7.8 to 18.9 percent in long-term market valuation. And the benefits of high morale go beyond stock price. After the tax services firm Ryan implemented flexible workweeks to improve morale, the company doubled revenue and profits and reached their highest ever client satisfaction scores.
One of the biggest financial benefits of focusing on employee morale is how much this saves you on turnover costs. Health insurer Cigna estimated the average cost of recruitment and replacement would be 150 percent of an employees’ salary. With numbers that large, it’s easy to see how improving retention is a tremendous help to your bottom line. And with every happy, motivated employee you retain, you’re building in-house expertise at your organization that will help you continue to delight customers and lead your competition.
Winning businesses have exceptional customer experience, strong productivity and business performance, and optimal finances. There is no factor that does more to impact all these areas than having a motivated and loyal workforce who are eager to use all their talents at their work. By focusing on employee morale, you can build the kind of loyal workforce that will escalate your organization to business royalty.
To learn more about how retraining is vital to a loyal workforce, read this blog.
You’re 30 minutes into your department’s monthly meeting when the question hits you: “Where is everyone’s energy?” Across the conference room you see vacant stares, and the silence between each employee’s statements is deafening. Your team looks tired, stressed, and not at full strength, especially since you count at least four employees who are absent from illness. In short, your employees are burnt out.
Employee burnout has become common, but it’s a huge threat to your organization. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, about two-thirds of workers experience burnout, and these employees are more likely to take sick days and look for new jobs. And even if these employees do show up, they exhibit lower confidence and engagement at work. As a leader in your organization, it’s vital you take steps to prevent employee burnout and promote wellness. Here are three ways to make that happen.
According to occupational psychologist Cary Cooper, employees who feel they have no control or autonomy in their workplace are likely to get a stress-related illness—and the overload of new technology is a major factor. The average business worker uses 9.4 different applications for daily work. Every time they have to switch apps, they’re spending valuable mental energy on adjusting to a new context. Add this stress to the fact that many employees have no say in which apps and devices they use to do their work, and you have a fast track to burnout.
To address this, empower employees to choose the technology they use to get work done. For example, defining secure but flexible BYOD policies for your office allows your employees to control which devices they use for work. It’s also helpful to leverage technology that integrates with the familiar consumer apps your workers know and like to use. Finally, look at workspace technology that brings all essential business apps together in one interface. This minimizes context switching between applications to help employees focus.
By the time you reached this section, there’s a good chance something interrupted you. Whether it was an invitation to a meeting, an expense report in need of your signature, or a Slack message in a company-wide channel, you probably didn’t get to this paragraph without something else vying for your attention. These distractions happen every day, but they come with a mental price: employees who experience frequent interruptions report a 9 percent higher exhaustion rate, and make significantly more errors than employees who aren’t interrupted. These are classic symptoms of burnout.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all interruptions from your workplace, remember not all interruptions are equally important. By deploying the right technology, you can screen out nonessential interruptions using settings that eliminate notifications from Slack, email, or calendar updates during certain work times. New developments in machine-learning and AI also make it possible to automate low-value tasks like RSVPing to calendar invites or approving expense reports. These technologies help prevent the distractions that lead to burnout and hurt your employees’ engagement.
Even when you’ve taken steps to give employees more control and protect them from distractions at work, an “always on” work culture can still cause widespread burnout. “Always on” workplaces expect employees to tightly schedule all their work time, want them to answer messages promptly at any time of day, and ensure their workload is always close to max capacity. According to a Quartz article, 67 percent of employees believe being “always on” has a significant negative impact on their health and wellness, which explains why “always on” workplaces tend to have awful employee retention and engagement.
The solution is finding the right balance between focused work time and open whitespace hours. By scheduling weekly whitespace hours in your employees’ calendars, you can designate time in the workweek for creative thinking, passion projects, and exercise. It’s also beneficial to facilitate communal spaces (like a game room or yoga studio) for your employees to spend this whitespace time together if they wish—this helps staff build stronger working relationships as they unplug together.
The Quartz article notes that 81 percent of workers believe decreasing burnout should be a top priority for employers, suggesting your employees know burnout is a significant threat that demands your attention. Are you ready to act? By giving your staff more control over their workplace technology, prioritizing tools that reduce distraction, and reserving unplugged whitespace time for your team, you can promote a culture of wellness at your organization that will keep burnout at bay.
To learn more about promoting wellness and employee engagement through mindfulness, read this blog post.
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