Gallup and others have estimated that nearly 75% of employees in America are at least partially disengaged at work. This means they are physically present but somewhat psychologically absent.
This apathy or going through the motions by employees impacts productivity but it also has a dramatic effect on the customer experience and repeat business. According to Gallup research when customers felt employees at fast food restaurants were engaged, they were 6 times more likely to return. In banks it they were up to 20 times more likely to continue a relationship.
Most pundits say that to get employees into the game you have to increase they level of commitment and involvement in executing their job. This sound nice but what exactly do you do?
Best Buy seems to have found a way. About two years ago they launched a social networking site exclusively for employees called Blueshirtnation.com in the hopes of addressing key employee issues.
Here are a few of the tangible results:
- Employees ask and answer questions about the gadgets they sell. By having a readily available source of answers they are more likely to try to learn how to deal with the issues customers’ raise. This increases they commitment and desire to do a better job. By answering others questions, they feel valued and gain a sense of fulfillment.
- Some times they just vent about having a bad day or the challenge of dealing with a demanding customer. Peers respond with encouragement and suggestions.
- Employees who actively participate in the social network are nearly 50% less likely to leave the company.
- In an attempt to increase employee participation in their 401K program, Best Buy used the social network to promote a video contest about retirement. They encourage employees to create clips on what retirement meant to them. These video clips generated a lot of interest and enrollment in the retirement program increased 30%.
- Employees posted problems with in store operations that quickly came to the attention of management and resulted in improvement. For example, one employee posted a picture of a display that didn’t fit the space properly. Other employees echo’d the same experience. Management at headquarter identified that the wrong displays had been shipped to certain stores and responded quickly. Employees felt now feel their voices are heard.
One important lesson Best Buys learned – they had to create a site that employees wanted to use. Now employees talk about what matters to them. It might be posting pictures of their cat or their weekend skiing. What is common to all employees is Best Buys and the site increases their sense of belonging and commitment.