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At Zoë, we sell two things. The first is right there in our name: facility services. This is what pays the bills. We assess a facility, help a client decide on the things they need, and deliver a suite of services to fill that need. The second thing we sell is culture. It’s our secret sauce, so-to-speak.

These days, candidates are looking for more than just a paycheck. Providing a robust and unique culture has produced a lot of fruit within our company and interestingly enough, it has become one of the most enticing things about us when we go out to the sell that first thing. Our potential clients love to hear about the culture we provide. These people sign on the dotted line because they know we are offering something more to those we employ. Better yet, they know that when a team is immersed in an environment where they are valued and managed with the correct outlook and strategy, the quality, quantity, and overall output exponentially increases. What we’re saying is this: culture (good or bad) will saturate into everything you do.

Ever hear of Google? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know about the game-changing culture they’ve created at their California headquarters. Inside the aptly named “Googleplex” they have adult slides, sleep pods, laundry services, oil changes, and much more to keep their designers and thinkers engaged and valued. Other organizations like NASA, Facebook, and Apple have created similar environments. These companies know they can’t be successful without high-performing teams that are challenged, driven, valued, and inspired by leadership to reach their full potential. A team-first mindset creates strength and a strong team will propel any organization infinitely further than any budget strategy, streamline initiative, or reorganization.

The problem is, very few organizations are able to create the environment necessary to get the very best out of their teams. A recent Gallup study shows that out of America’s 100 million full-time employees, only 33% like their job. That’s right, only one-third of the population actually likes going to work. 51% of that 100 million say they are “disengaged”. Which means that over half the workforce in America is doing the bare minimum. Half of America ultimately doesn’t care how well a company performs as long as they continue to have a paycheck.

So, if 33% of employees are happy and 51% don’t give a you-know-what, then what’s going on with the other 16%? I like to think that these are the ones who are actively disengaged. if you’re a leader in your field, you’re most likely familiar with this person. They spend most of their day on Facebook. Every time you see them, they’re taking a break. Despite knowing they could perform better, they choose not to because they haven’t bought in to the company, the job, or their leader.

At Zoë, we’re not perfect by any means. We would love to say that the 33% of America mentioned above works for us. But that isn’t true. However, I am certain a large percentage of our employees would say that Zoë is the best place they’ve ever worked. Because they’ve let us know time and time again. But it isn’t the work. It isn’t the money. It’s our culture. If we were to choose to be blind to employee dissatisfaction, we are just entering a race with a broken leg. And the same goes for you. If your team doesn’t care, you may as well forfeit—you’ve already lost. You’ve lost because disengagement is expensive. These employees take more time off, are less productive, make more mistakes, and wreak havoc on your operations.

You can’t buy loyalty but you will pay for not having it. Don’t believe me yet? Stick with me…

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicts that every time a company replaces a salaried employee, it costs six to nine months’ salary on average. For reference, if a manager makes $60K a year, that’s $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training expenses.

A CAP study found that this rate is related to salary. For example, an organization can expect to pay more based on employee compensation:

  • 16 percent of annual salary for high-turnover low-paying jobs (earning under $30,000 a year). The cost of replacing a $12/per hour employee is about $4,150.
  • 20 percent of annual salary for midrange positions (earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year). The cost of replacing a $40,000 manager is $8,000.
  • Up to 213 percent of annual salary for highly educated executive positions. For example, the cost of replacing a $1 million CEO is $213,000.

I understand that these are only estimates and that retention is difficult to measure due to the huge number of variables to account for. But, just because something is challenging to measure doesn’t mean it isn’t worth talking about. Even if an exact dollar figure can’t easily be projected, one thing is clear: employee disengagement and poor retention will cost you.

If all of this stings a bit, don’t fret. Just start by integrating small things that add value to your team. Encouraging emails are a great jumping off point. Team challenges and rewards are great incentives. Company outings and social media shoutouts empower and build up your team. Newsletters that are employee-focused and let them know the trajectory of the company keeps them involved and with their eyes fixed on a target.

Develop a culture for your teams where the line between ‘have to’ and ‘want to’ blurs into ‘get to.’. That way you can become an organization that sells two things.