Happy employees lead to happy customers

Retail reality 

Poor employee interaction might cost you a customer for life.

Empowering employees by providing knowledge and the right tools will ensure proper interaction with customers, but truly engaged employees will impress customers so much more. An employee who speaks with true passion about the brand and its products is bound to touch customers’ hearts.

A happy workplace
For employees to show their passion for the brand, you have to be passionate about your staff! To achieve that, the annual Christmas party is not enough.
Employers should also bear in mind that research has shown an important connection between engagement and performance. Engaged teams have proven to outperform competitors in categories like productivity and employee retention.

Currently, more and more brands (including a lot of retailers) are setting up wellness programmes for their staff. Employers are not only using these programmes to increase employee engagement, but also to become an employer of choice. After all, an overall feeling of collective well-being will not only promote a healthy workforce, but will also enhance the company’s reputation for actually caring for its employees. This makes current employees happy, and attracts new talent.

No one-size-fits-all solution
So what does the ultimate wellness programme look like? A good programme not only focuses on healthy choices by providing fitness facilities or fruit at the office, for example, but also puts a strong emphasis on mental health. However, creating a programme that makes your employees feel happy depends on the specifics of your company. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s have a look at some retailers who are in the top ranking of best workplaces in retail.

Touch your employee’s heart
TOMS knows how to touch the heart of its customers. The shoe company is famous for its buy-one-give-one model and through that programme has donated shoes, eye care products, clean water and other goods to poor people in developing countries. The founder of the company, Blake Mycoskie, also wanted to improve the lives of his staff and so TOMS introduced a programme to make employees’ lives more balanced and fulfilling. The programme includes things like flexible work schedules, eight weeks of paid paternity leave and ‘Happy Helping Hour’, in which a charity visits TOMS every month to engage employees in some activity.

Practices like the Happy Helping Hour link directly to TOMS’ mission and are therefore a unique fit. The employees care about TOMS’ social mission and like to contribute. Their motivation is immeasurably enhanced by joining a ‘giving tour’, in which they actually travel to one of the developing countries and distribute the shoes, glasses and other goods themselves. This makes them brand ambassadors for life!

A life-changing experience
A brand with quite a different mission but a similar approach is the organic supermarket Whole Foods Market. Their mission is to sell only food without artificial flavourings, colorants, preservatives or sweeteners. Customers can count on their high standards, but interested employees can check whether these standards are actually being met at the places where the store’s produce are sourced. They can travel to these countries for two or three weeks through the in-house volunteer programme.

[quote] the programme has truly elevated my dedication and loyalty to an entirely new level

The Whole Planet Foundation (WPF) funds microlending programmes in 73 countries and 16 US cities. It is a non-profit organisation funded by Whole Foods Market and donations by its customers. Reflecting the company’s high standards, WPF guarantees that 100 % of customers’ donations are used to fund microcredits and that Whole Foods Market will cover the foundation’s operating costs. Through the volunteer programme, employees get the unique opportunity to travel abroad to learn about the WPF programme, to see where and how products are grown, and to meet the people who receive the microcredits and hear their stories. And as if this isn’t life-changing enough, they also perform community service. For example, they may help the local community by painting and upgrading a children’s home, drilling a well, etc. Reading how WFM employees describe the impact of their trip shows how it has transformed them: “I've loved working for Whole Foods Market for the past four years, but the programme has truly elevated my dedication and loyalty to an entirely new level. Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity.” (Jen, team member, India 2015 trip).

Cultivate a happy workplace
It may look like every brand needs a big social mission to make its employees feel happy - and we must admit it certainly makes it easier to touch their hearts - but bear in mind that people are becoming more mindful in every way. This means that your programme does not always need to focus on big ideas that will change the face of mankind or the world. It can just as easily focus on finding a balance in our personal lives. So start by looking for stress relievers at the workplace, come up with long-term practices, and see the smiles grow on your employees’ faces. And smiles will make the workplace a happy one.

Do you want to know more about this trend? Then you should contact Erica Twigt, erica.twigt@kega.nl  or +31 (0)252 750275.