Labor of love: 3 examples of the power of employee involvement

Labor Day is a time to recognize and celebrate the great contributions of America's workforce, who are rewarded with a day of rest and relaxation… unless, of course, they work in retail, or want to nab a great deal on a mattress. Admittedly, for many, Labor Day is little more than the last hurrah of summer - its origin as a celebration of America’s 157 million workers overshadowed by back-to-school sales and BBQs. Even the very nature of 'employment' is undergoing a shift, with more than a third of American workers now freelance[1]

Yet Labor Day is a good moment to appreciate the economic, social and personal benefits of employee involvement in today's workplace, which remain as robust as ever. Here we explore what it looks like to involve rather than simply engage employees, with examples of leading American organizations doing this in practice.

Business leaders today are laying the foundation for sustained, authentic employee involvement by establishing a customer-centric purpose and seeking out employees who share their values and are inspired by the customer purpose. By "bringing their whole selves" to work every day, employees are more likely to immerse themselves in the company purpose and achieve more job satisfaction. And research shows that having genuinely 'involved employees' is a hallmark of growing organizations who enjoy greater morale, higher productivity and faster growth. 

USAA, which provides financial services to past and present members of the US military and their families, is consistently ranked #1 in customer experience. Helping customers who have served their country drives its employees to a higher level of commitment and dedication. They are integral to identifying potential customer experience improvements and submitted over 6000 new ideas via an ideation tool, complete with business cases and pitches to leadership. 

Zappos is well known for a commitment to exceptional service. They moved their headquarters to Las Vegas to be close to a rich pool of hospitality-minded people, who in turn participate in a strong feedback loop identifying more ways to delight their customer. While their employees are expected to spend at least 80% of their time interacting directly with customers, they are also free to determine the best way to do this. Rather than meeting call time targets, they spend as much time as they deem necessary to reach a positive outcome for the customer.[2]

Airbnb's Global Head of Employee Experience, Mark Levy, says they have started to 'treat employees like founders'. This includes new ways to foster two-way communication. Bi-weekly global meetings are live streamed and less than 24 hours after each executive team meeting the notes are distributed to everyone in the company, with questions and ideas encouraged in response. They also hold an annual One Airbnb conference in which they've incorporated learning opportunities. They also have an afternoon of 'Air Shares', where employees share knowledge and skills with their colleagues based on their personal passions inside or outside work.[3]

At Brand Learning we work with global businesses on employee involvement, helping them define their customer-centered purpose, attract employees aligned with the customer purpose and build the organizational capabilities to better involve employees. For more information about how Brand Learning can help you better involve your employees to create customer impact and business growth please get in touch.  

Happy Labor Day!

BRAND LEARNING: Inspiring people. Lifting capabilities. Growing organisations.



[2] Customer Experience Excellence Centre 2015 USA Analysis, Nunwood