Any business owner wanting to increase the bottom line need look no further than the cultural chemistry or his or her organization. The following article provides additional support to the overwhelming evidence that increased employee engagement can provide a sustainable competitive advantage to businesses in virtually every industry.
Citing JetBlue, Zappos, and Charles Schwab as examples of organizations that have created a powerful chemistry of enthusiasm within their workforces — translating into increased customer satisfaction AND profitability — the article provides an excellent combination of statistical and anecdotal evidence.
The good news for business owners is that despite the many economic factors beyond their control, creating a cultural chemistry of enthusiasm is still something over which they have COMPLETE control — and it can be done relatively quickly to create sustainable improvements.
by Domenico Azzarello, Frédéric Debruyne and Ludovica Mottura
Bain & Company
Organizations have been trying for years to cultivate employee engagement. Like JetBlue, they persist in their efforts for good reason. One of the most powerful factors that spur customers to become advocates for a company is employees’ positive behavior and attitude. Bain consumer surveys show that the overall experience of dealing with a company often matters much more to customers than price or brand or—in industries with a big service component, such as home insurance and retail banking— even product features alone.
Engaged employees go the extra mile to deliver. Their enthusiasm rubs off on other employees and on customers. They provide better experiences for customers, approach the job with energy—which enhances productivity—and come up with creative product, process and service improvements. They remain with their employer for longer tenures, which reduces turnover and its related costs. In turn, they create passionate customers who buy more, stay longer and tell their friends—generating sustainable growth.
As a result, over seven years, companies with highly engaged workers grew revenues two and a half times as much as those with low engagement levels. And stocks of companies with a high-trust work environment outperformed market indexes by a factor of three from 1997 through 2011.
One reason for this superior performance is that engaged employees direct their energy toward the right tasks and outcomes. Compensation and benefits still matter to employees, of course. But when it comes to engagement, other characteristics of the workplace matter even more: a strong sense of purpose, ample autonomy, opportunity for growth and a sense of affiliation. As one employee of online retailer Zappos put it, “The golden rule is the way of life here.”
Organizations with highly engaged employees often seem to be powered by an inner force, a mantra that crystallizes the company’s processes and employee behaviors into a compelling summation of “what we’re all about.” The mantra shapes how employees carry out their tasks and gives them confidence to use their judgment. And when the true source of job satisfaction, happiness and recognition derives from enriching customers’ experiences, good things happen.