Mine is a really small business.
Like, really small.
I read a lot about employee engagement via online literature [and sometimes I impostor and think, am I doing enough in terms of employee engagement?], and then I read more [and more] and I realise, “wow. Without the Bachelor’s degree to cover off on all o’ the employee engagement learnings … we’re actually really winning at employee engagement just by showin’ up and being a small business that prioritises its people over profit”.
Spoiler alert? When you do that, the profit comes.
It’s been a combination of having a natural interest and curiosity for employee engagement, coupled with the fact that I’m currently leading a small team of x11 human beings through a global pandemic [and in an industry that’s been hugely impacted by CV-19, i.e digital marketing] that’s really piqued my interest [and exploration of] employee engagement, and how I [as TDP’s Founding Director] genuinely benefit from investing in my employees.
Y’see when times get tough [i.e global pandemics, n’ all that jazz], the first cuts are often the things that should be cut last: people, their training, their ongoing development etc. And believe-you-me, I made it crystal clear that TDP’s Accountant [and Business Advisor] sat me down within the first fortnight of COVID and said, “if you experience client loss to xyz extent” you will genuinely lose your team [thankfully for me? We lost clients, and then brought them back … and then were legitimately inundated with new enquiries within the 8th to 10th weeks of COVID].
*wipes sweat from her people manage’y brow* ha!
And so, because so many of you comment on our employee engagement [and your comments make us feel like you think it’s an employee engagement “success story”? Ha!] … I thought I’d whip up a blog post here on how I benefit from investing in my employees [and I’m not just talking monetarily].
First? I remunerate above typical industry bandwidths
This one’s the no-brainer.
Yep. It means it takes us a little longer to make the kind of profit that other agencies make, but guess what? We’re like the turtle in hare-and-turtle situation, i.e while other agencies are tackling employee retention issues / having scathing reviews written about them on glass door websites? … we’re celebrating 3 year work’a’versaries [i.e the exact length of our very first full-time hire], and retaining all of our TDP folk [and we all know how expensive hiring, and rehiring, and rehiring again is, don’t we?].
Then? I make sure we invest our time into our people
This is where we shine.
Monthly reviews with each person’s direct report. Lots of feedback [the feedback is both good, i.e to fill the cups up … and constructively – and gently – critical, i.e to play a legitimate mentoring role in order to advance all of our TDP humans]. In these sessions, we’re constantly circling back to each employees career goals / how we can play a role to advance them in that particular space / wanting to know where they’re wanting to upskill [so that can we can mentor internally, or send them offsite for various training opportunities], and so much more.
It’s a big time investment [i.e monthly], but a necessary one.
We wanna know where you wanna go so that we can either facilitate that internally, or give you the ultimate mentoring experience in-house at TDP HQs so that – in the event they take a position elsewhere – they’ve been packed to the brim with all o’ the right mentoring to be able to help them shine in future positions [here, or elsewhere].
Then? We commit to their lifelong learning via regular training experiences
As above, really.
Tell us what you wanna learn so that we can either a) train you up internally, or b) book in relevant training elsewhere.
Our yearly training budget is generous, because our core values centre around being lifelong learners and acknowledging that this is a fast paced industry that requires regular upskilling to be able to keep up.
We interviewed candidates recently for our Digital Marketing Specialist role and one person asked whether we committed to training and upskilling, and then went on to describe that where they’d worked previously had scoffed at training and instead said, “look it up on YouTube in your own time”.
That was hard to hear, and the very opposite of how we roll here, tbh.
And I also believe in surprise-and-delight’ing
This one’s hard to turn into a system and process, but basically? I just … care about my team. And I follow them on social channels [if they accept an Instagram friend request, as an example]. I watch what they share, and I listen to conversations at work, and I ask questions, and when they’ve had a sh*t day? … I go to a little screenshot folder on my iPhone and it’ll have a screenshot of a jumpsuit they’ve been coveting, or a handbag, or [insert screenshot here].
You get the gist.
So then I buy it. And it’s important to me [really important to me] that I know what they’d actually want. Because y’see with this stuff? It’s this seemingly little stuff that becomes the big stuff, i.e it shows that they are known / heard / listened to / understood etc.
During COVID? I delivered toilet paper, and melatonin for our working parents whose kids weren’t sleeping [before you call the cops, it was over-the-counter stuff. Relax, Karen], and weet-bix on front doorsteps.
We’ve had employees who’ve had deaths in the family, or pregnancy loss, or COVID-related job loss [their spouses] … and every time? I’ve had flowers delivered [for deaths in the family], or a big box of mangoes and cherries [to nourish our beloved employee who experienced pregnancy loss], and for the employee whose spouse lost their job re: COVID? I went on a LinkedIn RAMPAGE in a desperate effort to ensure he secured new employment.
Again, this is really little [simple] sh*t that really matters.
There’s companies out there who spend the same amount on Friday night drinks that I do on walking past a book store and seeing a book my employee was coveting [and subsequently buy it for them] … and I dunno, I’m not much of a drinker [my Mother had substance abuse issues, so drinking myself into oblivion has never appealed to me], but I think all o’ the above delights *far* more than Friday night drinks.
Call me out if I’m wrong? Ha! [always open to feedback].
We go hard on the stuff that other [bigger] organisations don’t seem to GAF about
I’m always blown away by huge companies who send off an employee who has dropped 10+ years at their company with one of those big ol’ daggy cards that everyone writes in, and a bunch of flowers.
10 years [?!].
Heck, I’ve heard of some places that haven’t even written in a Christmas card. Like, once a year. Just a simple, “thanks for giving us x40 hours per week for 12 months straight. ‘Ave a good Christmas, yea?”. #lol.
At TDP? We do birthdays [$150 online voucher to online store that we know you love + a bunch-a-flowers + biodegradable balloons + a cake. FYI? When you start with us? … we ask you what your favourite cake flavour is. Nothin’ worse than a cheesecake when you don’t like cheese, ya know?].
We do work’a’versaries [they’re extra, ha!]. We do galentine’s day. We do a lot of the days, really. And on these occasions? Our folks receive genuine, lovebomb’y messages … because #wordsofaffirmation.
We find out what social causes matter the most to our people, and we guide TDP donations / pro bono work around these
Tell us what matters to you, and we’ll donate to that charity on your work’a’versary, or birthday / design pro bono work around supporting that charity / donate to that charity on behalf of that employee if they win our monthly company culture award.
You get the gist.
If it matters to you? … it matters to us.
We keep our lines of communication open
Finally [and this one has been SO important during COVID] … we really open up our lines of communication: we had to drop our team to .6 for x3 weeks during the worst-impacted CV-19 weeks, and we kept communicating throughout [and predicting how long the .6 drop would be]. When we came out the other side? Everyone got a [generous] financial bonus [to say thank you for the sacrifices made during that period].
Pandemic aside? We’re an agency that creates work in the field of communication, so if we can’t nail comms? … I resign, ha!
We’re open. We foster feedback culture. We want our team to give it, and be able to successfully receive it. We are genuinely always talking, and listening, and opening team meetings up at the start to discuss the non-work stuff [personal development, life, life in general].
Really open comms.
Have I missed something important in the employee engagement space?
Lemme know in the comments below.