Need More Customers? Get Happy Employees!

What if I told you that the best way to grow your business was to focus on the happiness of your existing employees?

Happy employees create happy customers. Happy customers deliver referrals to your sales team. And happy employees deliver candidate referrals to your HR team. Sounds so simple right?

So why do so  many companies struggle to maintain happy and loyal employees and customers?

According to Gallup’s “State of The Global Workplace” report, only 13% of employees around the world are actively engaged in their jobs, finding satisfaction in their work and focused on creating value for their employer. Actively disengaged employees outnumber engaged employees by 2-1.

Why is this important for marketing strategy? Because the role of marketing is to get and keep customers. And the most effective way to do that is by hiring and retaining engaged employees.

Need proof? According to Gallup, companies who invest and attain higher employee engagement achieve 3 times the operating margin than those with low employee engagement.

What does a company with high employee engagement look like? According to the report, companies with high engagement:

  • Make employee engagement important by discussing why it is important before measuring it
  • Make employee engagement an important goal for all managers
  • Select and promote leaders based on their ability to effectively manage people
  • Measure engagement in realistic ways that are meaningful to individuals.
  • Their measurement activity leads to actions
  • They provide training and coaching for company managers on effective employee management

In fact my own research has shown that the conventional wisdom that you need to “like” your boss doesn’t correlate with happy employees. Happy employees don’t always like their manager. And unhappy employees don’t always hate their boss.

What really matters is how well managers encourage their employees to present new ideas. And then support them up the org chart to put the best ideas into action.

The Gallup report also profiled 3 types of employees:

  1. Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. 13%
  2. Not Engaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work. 63%
  3. Actively Disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish. 24% (holy cow!)

Steps To Higher Employee Engagement

  1. Hire the right people: With each new hire or promotion, employers have the opportunity to increase employee engagement in the workplace
  2. Invest in developing strengths: employees who received strengths-based coaching saw their engagement scores improve substantially.
  3. Enhance employee well-being. Everyone wants a good job, fair pay and affordable healthcare. But the best managers find ways to improve employees’ lives by focusing on employee well-being, balance while also helping them to be more productive.

Or you could ask one simple question of all employees: does your manager champion your ideas!

Companies with engaged employees see 240% improvement in overall business results. They build brand ambassadors who reflect positively on the business with each interaction with customers, potential new talent, fellow employees and society at large.

Engaged employees not only understand their businesses purpose, they can articulate it as well. And they understand how their job contributes to the overall purpose of the brand.

That’s how to get and keep customers. That’s how to get and keep talent. That’s marketing, helping sales, helping HR, helping to grow the business.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

9 thoughts on “Need More Customers? Get Happy Employees!

  1. I’m reminded of a story in Robert Townsend’s book “Up the Organization” – Robert became CEO of Avis and reinvigorated the company with the “We Try Harder” strapline.
    He was told by a major shareholder “The first thing you have to do is hire a new team”.
    A year later, the same shareholder complimented him “You have a really great team of people here – I met six today who could do your job”. Robert’s answer – same team, different motivation.

    Hiring the right people and treating them as valued employees, however, is paternalistic. What really makes the difference is involving them in the decision making.

    A simple tool which creates collaborative teams based around the processes they are involved in can help everyone understand what eachother does and break down silos, while maintaining the “knowledge and expertise in their field” which SAP provides.

  2. A strong work culture viewed as a marketing asset – nice Michael! There’s really no business area that doesn’t feel a boost from an engaged workforce. People are always your most broadly valuable asset.

    Two things that leap out in that Gallup report:
    1) “Select leaders based on their ability to effectively manage people” – this really isn’t done enough in my profession (sales). Companies reflexively promote their top sales reps to management, often assuming they’ll be the best at figuring out how to get the most out of a team. But it’s really a different skill-set.

    2) “They provide training and coaching for company managers on effective employee management
    – there’s a huge ROI opportunity in investing in management training and most companies aren’t doing it.

    1. Josiane,

      Thank you so much for pointing out those 2 points. Those are the exact same 2 that resonated with me. One of the things I remember reading from Reed Hastings was that you support company culture based on who you promote, hire and fire. And I think promoting (and hiring) strong managers and firing (or demoting) weak ones out of manager positions can help enforce leadership principles that will have a business impact.

      The bigger question is why does any business NOT do that?

  3. This is a great piece on how branding starts with engaged employees – and it today’s environment that’s synonymous with being a social business. I wonder whether companies who have yet to leverage employees in social marketing are afraid to do so because they know they have failed to create the kind of corporate culture that breeds positive engagement?

    1. Thanks Vidar, I think culture is a big part of it. But also the goal of having engaged employees is important. Companies support their culture by who the hire, promote and fire. But how many bad managers do you see? That’s where I would start.

  4. 100% agreed. We make sure that we have monthly parties (Yes that is monthly) due to the high stress products and services we provide. Business owners must understand that employees are part of the business too. A crucial human part that is absolutely necessary (Especially if customer service is a key component of your business). Thank you for raising more awareness on this topic.

  5. Thanks for the post Michael, employee engagement is a hot topic and with good reason. From a marketing standpoint engaged employees mean happy customers and what could better for the employer brand and the brand brand than happy, enthusiastic employee/ customer marketers?

    1. Thanks David, I also think it’s becoming more important because traditional marketing tactics are so largely ignored. But who do we listen to? People. And when we hear that someone works for a great company, we’re more likely to be inclined to buy from them. I think this is a huge trend and it’s happening fast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *