Employee Engagement

Several years ago, we were visiting friends in northern California. We’d read many stories about Nordstrom’s department store, saw that there was a store nearby and paid them a visit.

‘Paid’ is the right word! Lovely merchandise but no bargain prices. I saw some shirts that were a good price so I snapped them up. I still remember the sales person’s name – Jean. She was good! Asked for the fries! “May I show you some ties to accompany the shirts, Mr. Bauman?” (Yes – she had asked my name early in the process. Different!)

Well the ties were great too, so in the bag they went. Or so I thought!

A few hours later, we returned to our friend’s house and had a shoppers’ ‘show and tell’ over cocktails. It was then I realized the ties were missing! Looked at my bill – yes, I’d paid for them! Called Nordstrom’s and asked for Jean.

“Mr. Bauman, thank goodness you called! I failed to put your ties in your bag and they’re here at my counter. I called Amex and told them what happened. They called your home but got no answer, so I couldn’t figure out how to reach you!”

Think that’s impressive? I was wowed!

But Jean wasn’t finished!

“Mr. Bauman, I also failed to tell you we have a free monogramming offer for your shirts. So, what I would like to do is deliver your ties to you when I finish my shift in a few minutes. I can pick up your shirts, have them monogrammed for you tomorrow and deliver them after work tomorrow night. I hope that won’t inconvenience you and I really apologize for my errors.”

Wow, wow, triple wow!

How does Nordstrom’s get their people to do that? I know my Nordstrom’s experience was not unique.

Well the answer is “engagement”. Their employees are engaged. Not “satisfied”. Not “happy”. Engaged.

An engaged employee will invest their discretionary time to further the company’s interests. Like Jean going out of her way, on her own time, to satisfy, no, delight a customer.

Would you like to have this level of engagement in your team?

We’ve worked for 17 years perfecting the Employee Engagement Process. It goes like this:

  • Conduct an anonymous employee survey.
  • Make sure the questions are well thought out and battle-tested.
  • When you get the results – don’t shoot the messenger! You are learning how your employees see things, their perception of reality.
  • Conduct employee debriefing sessions to learn what’s behind the answers.
  • Don’t offer any instant solutions – just listen.
  • Develop an Action Plan.
  • Follow through on the Action Plan, giving your employees regular feedback.
  • Look for changes in behaviors and results.

That’s it!

Is it worth the effort?

Here’s what Gallup says – of the thousands of companies in their database, the top 25% outperform the bottom 25% with

  • 37% less absenteeism
  • 49% fewer safety accidents
  • 60% fewer defects
  • 18% more productive
  • 19% higher revenue per employee
  • 39% higher customer loyalty
  • 23% higher revenue per customer

So, we believe that engaged employees are truly your Ultimate Competitive Advantage!

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