We recently gave a seminar presentation and exhibited at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Turnover rates in the trucking industry are astronomically high, so we did our part to spread the word about the importance of employee engagement to help improve retention. While we focused on the trucking industry during our seminar, Reinvent Recruiting & Retention, the presentation content applies to any company in any industry. So, let’s digest the content, shall we? Here it goes:
According to a recent Gallup Poll, did you know that 2/3 of US workers feel disengaged at work? That’s a pretty large number of people… One would think most of those people don’t want to feel that way considering being at work takes up most of their time.
With that said, implementing a recognition program is the key to optimizing employee engagement. Referring to this Globoforce Article, when companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement.
That’s a pretty impactful statement right there. Here is a summary of a case study from the call center industry that proves this…
- Situation: A 1500-seat call center with over 200% turnover. Job is boring and stressful. Management invested in higher pay, better workstations, and better benefits… no improvement.
- Tactics: Focused on why employees stayed and they determined it was co-worker bonds. By reinforcing positive employee behavior, they launched an online employee recognition program. The program rewarded for random acts of kindness, among others, to help reinforce and strengthen the importance of employee bonds.
- Results: 200% turnover was down by 133%, and falling. And most importantly, 82% of employees believed the company committed to recognizing employee accomplishments.
So, as you can see, employee engagement is pretty important for business. But many decision makers may be asking themselves, “Where do I start?” or “How can I make this happen?” No worries, we’re here to help. Here’s what we call our “Action Plan” to get things going…
STEP 1 = LISTEN
Plain and simple… regular employee feedback amounts to lower turnover. Your workforce feels valued and appreciated when they are involved in company processes. Mentioned in this employee engagement info graphic, there are 14.9% lower turnover rates in companies that implement regular employee feedback. Here are some ideas…
- Implement an “open-door policy”. No one likes to just be “talked to”… it’s a 2-way street! Let your employees have a voice to speak to all company staff levels.
- Check-in at least once per month. Don’t wait until that annual performance review. And encourage feedback… everyone will benefit from it.
- Ask for new ideas. Conducting a survey is probably the best way to accomplish this as well as get feedback and a better understanding on particular topics within your organization.
STEP 2 = INVEST
You’ve listened, and now you’re ready to invest in your employees. And from a recruiting standpoint, there are 2 “recruiting musts” that all recruiters need to keep in mind…
#1: Hire based on fit. This blog by O.C. Tanner explains it really well. Hire people who really fit within your company culture. Employees who believe in their company’s core values and align with the culture will positively translate into their work.
#2: Use Social Media. According to this recent social recruiting survey, social media is an essential recruitment tool across all industries. The top 3, in order of popularity, are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Did you know that the millennial generation is now the largest population in the workforce? This generation pretty much lives and breathes social media, so it’s a no-brainer for companies to be present in this space.
Once you’ve recruited the right people, now it’s time to truly invest and train them. No question, training is very important. Training = Better Performance, as referenced earlier, this info graphic further helps depict this. Companies that invest more in training and career development outperform their peers. How do you improve upon training? Here are some ways…
- Encourage participation in special mentoring programs to help your employees grow.
- Implement continuous learning… an eLearning module on an integrated online program is a perfect example.
- Make sure the mission of your company culture is evident in your training content.
Let’s really drive home the importance of company culture, shall we? Do you ever shop at Zappos.com? This company is a prime example of positive company culture, and their employees know it… and so do their customers since their happy attitudes show up in their customer service skills. Take some time to read more about Zappos culture… it will make you want to work there. Oh, and their CEO Tony Hsieh published a book called Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose… it’s now a movement… learn more here. It just goes to show that if a company is dedicated to their company culture and core values, their bottom line profits will be positively impacted.
STEP 3 = RECOGNIZE
And the final step at that… This Forbes article explains how recognition really works by referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Recognition supports our higher-level psychological needs in order to make us feel important and respected. Compensation and benefits is a base-line and we need more than that. Elements of recognition make us feel appreciated and happy. All companies need to embrace this concept to truly improve employee engagement.
Further, recognition = motivation… And, again, referencing this amazing source, 78% of employees said being recognized motivates them in their job. Here are some tips:
- Praise employees often… Frequency is key… at least once per week.
- All levels of the workforce should participate… not just at the manager level, but peer-to-peer as well. Encourage recognition to all.
- Recognize for all different kinds of performance, not just one thing. Years of service, new ideas, birthdays, event attendance, learning completions, wellness activities, etc… the list goes on and on! And better yet, incorporate all recognition types into one program.
An integrated recognition program needs meaningful rewards for your workforce. So, what rewards are true motivators or incentives? It ranges from pure transaction, such as cash or gift cards to emotional experiences, like travel or trips. Non-cash rewards have more of an emotional impact; However, if you reward with cash rewards the options are endless for what that reward can be used for or applied to. Reloadable prepaid cards that are customized with the company logo are a great way to represent the company and allow your employees to use it wherever they want.
So, let’s compare the importance of recognition to our personal lives… You wouldn’t tell your significant other “I love you” once a year, would you? This Lifehacker blog talks about the secret of happy couples… and in one referenced study, people who responded to their significant other’s triumphs at least 3 times per day for 1 week increased their happiness. We’re all human… It makes sense that we’re happiest when we’re frequently recognized in our personal lives… the same applies to our life at work.
This is the first blog of our “B2B Loyalty” blog series—we’re really excited about it and we hope you enjoy the content. So, let’s get started…
B2B – we hear it all the time in the business world. But let’s get the definition out of the way… According to the infamous Wikipedia, “Business-to-business (B2B) is commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.” So, obviously, the opposite would be B2C or Business-to-consumer.
Loyalty – let’s get that definition cleared up as well… Again, same highly regarded source, “Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause.” Interestingly enough, as you read further about this definition, it’s mentioned that many argue that an object of loyalty should only be a human being… but we very frequently use the term “Brand Loyalty” in the marketing world—And in this case, the object of loyalty would be a brand… definitely not a human being. On the contrary, however, humans or people are in fact the driver behind the life of a brand, so humans = brands… right? Ok, enough philosophy on that one… You get my drift.
Let’s dive in… When we put these two words together we get “B2B Loyalty”, hence the reason for this blog. If we consider the two separate definitions above, we can define this combined term as “Dedication to a brand from a business transaction perspective”. Simple, right? Maybe not. We’re here to explain the 3 different types of B2B Loyalty as well as highlight some examples in the real business world of how rewards programs heighten the importance of this topic. So, here it goes:
(1) Manufacturer to Dealer
The first B2B loyalty scenario involves a manufacturing company distributing products to dealer companies to sell those products in their region or territory. The dealer and their sales associates are loyal to the manufacturer’s brand(s) when they sell the brand product(s) to their customers. But why be loyal when the dealer has other competitor manufacturer products to sell as well? That’s when B2B loyalty comes to play… here are great examples:
Mack Bulldog Club
According to the related case study, this incentive program is intended for Mack Trucks to reward their dealers and their sales people upon completion of training and sales performance. Mack Bulldog Club is a tiered, points-based program with rewards that include experiences and cash. What does the program achieve? Sales growth and increased market share. All business people praise these terms!
SAP PartnerEdge Loyalty
Bloomberg Businessweek highlights this program in a research case study, explaining the importance of driving channel partner performance. With the SAP PartnerEdge program, partners are being rewarded for activities such as sales and training (repeating trend here, same activities as the Mack program highlighted above). The case study mentions that because there’s an integrated rewards system, the partners are focused on selling SAP’s products and services over SAP’s competitors. That’s loyalty at its best!
(2) Company to Company
The 2nd type of B2B loyalty is when a company sells its product(s) or service(s) to another company. The selling company’s client, so to speak, is the buying company who, in theory, purchases from the selling company to assist their business goals and objectives. The purpose of integrating loyalty in this scenario is to show commitment to a client company, and in the end, fostering a long-term buying relationship that retains that company’s business. Here are a couple very good examples of this B2B loyalty relationship:
“U” Premier Loyalty Program
A great example of a loyalty program for B2B clients is highlighted in this Marketing.org article. The “U” Premier program is offered by PHX, a provider of one-stop cost-management services for health-care companies. The company wanted to try something completely different in its industry, so they started a platform that encouraged education and incentives for its client companies. The points-driven, tier-level program (again, another trend) rewards clients based on tenure, claims, and activity completion such as a survey. Among many achievements, the feedback and knowledge gained to realize the potential of better servicing their clients is probably the most important. At the end of the day, the selling company recognizes loyalty of its buying company clients by the noticeable staying power and activity within its precise program.
Starwood Preferred Guest Pro
This is a great example of taking an existing B2C loyalty program (in this case, the audience of hotel guest customers) and expanding it into the B2B space. This Loyalty360 article explains it very well—Starwood Hotels created the Pro version in order to recognize the business received from company meeting planners and travel associates… it’s simple, every time a business event is booked, the company receives rewards points and access to other great benefits. As stated on the program’s page, “Earn for work. Redeem for fun – business has never been so personal.” It’s a genius idea.
(3) Company to Employees
The last type is probably the most common… A company shows their loyalty to their employees by recognizing achievements and performance. You will frequently see service awards that reward ‘x’ years of service to the company. However, there is so much opportunity to integrate a full-fledged program with multiple types of recognition… this really creates a positive impact with a company’s workforce. In the end, employees will be highly engaged in their work, and the company will see increased employee retention, and most important, profitability. Here are a couple examples of an employee recognition program:
This Scotiabank website link talks a little bit about their industry-leading, international recognition program. The program is structured so that employees can both send and receive recognition based on different values and behaviors. “Applause points” are awarded to be redeemed on the rewards catalog. The online platform also integrates their “Best of the Best” program that highlights their best employees, judged based on four key areas: people, customer, operational and financial. What a great way to engage employees in two-way communication and recognizing leaders within a company organization.
Intuit Spotlight Awards
One of Intuit’s values is “It’s the People”, as mentioned on an Intuit site page. The company truly recognizes that their people are the driving force behind their success, and they’ve made a strategic decision to invest in their recognition program. Another source explains that the program is very versatile making it ideal to reward employees for both small and large achievements, and their rewards can be redeemed for a variety of gift certificates. One differentiator of the program is their “Write Stuff” awards where the communications team is recognized for their writing skills… besides the cash prize involved, what makes this unique is they also get to display their award certificate for all other employees to see.