The Longest and Hardest 9 Inches in Employee Engagement

The Longest and Hardest 9 Inches in Employee Engagement image 9 inches 50The Longest and Hardest 9 Inches in Employee Engagement

I love the concept behind Stan Phelps’ 9 INCH Marketing; the name refers to the average distance between the brain and the heart of your customers and your employees. 

As Stan says: it’s the longest and hardest 9″ in marketing. At its core, the concept is all about winning the hearts and minds of your customers and your employees. In CX Journey speak, it’s a long, slow journey for such a short distance.

Stan published his first book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish, early last year to help with the customer mind-heart journey; about a month ago, he published What’s Your Green Goldfish to help with that mind-to-heart employee journey. I would recommend getting your hands on both books!

Today, I want to focus on What’s Your Green Goldfish. I was excited to read the book because I was really starting to think that there are just too few companies focusing on the employee experience. This book gave me hope. Trust me – there are many more companies out there that have their work cut out for them in this area, but these 1,001 examples of how companies take care of their employees are refreshing!

The Green Goldfish book is filled with a lot of great ideas and approaches to understanding employee engagement, but I like that Stan carries the 9 INCH theme through this book. He outlines the 9″ between the head and the heart of the employee and gives examples for every inch along the journey. As I read about each of the nine inches, I couldn’t help but think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Check these out and see if you agree. (Note: Stan sent me a preview copy of the book; the final version may have different names or different orders to the 9 inches than what I’ve outlined below.)

Stan calls the first three inches “The Basics,” defined as creating a stable environment.

First Inch: Onboarding/Food and Beverage
Make a solid first impression with your employees. Get onboarding right and get your new hires started off on the right foot. Stan says that less than 25% of companies have a formal onboarding process.

Second Inch: Shelter and Wellness
Your workspace, your physical environment, where you work – these are all important to moving to the second inch of the journey. In addition, supporting healthy living and healthy behavior results in healthy, happy, productive employees.

Third Inch: Time Away and the Modern Family
Having time off is key, but in the States, we have the fewest number of days off work every year. Typically, full-time employees get two weeks, plus maybe 10 holidays throughout the year. Here’s the problem: many of us don’t even take what we get. As David Murphy of North Face said: “Vacation days are like aspirin; they only work if you take them.

The other component of the third inch is the needs of the modern family; this doesn’t just refer to same-sex couples but also to spending time with family, caring for elderly parents or ill family members. Companies who support all of these scenarios are well ahead of the pack.

Stan refers to these next three inches as “Belonging,” defined as enabling high-functioning teams and recognizing their efforts.

Fourth Inch: Retirement and Flexibility
Flexible work arrangements improve satisfaction and productivity. I can speak to that. I work from home, and I always say that I get more done in six hours at home than in 10 hours in the office. I love working from home.

As for retirement, both matching and contributing along with retirement planning services help to prepare employees for the “after life.”

Fifth Inch: Team Building and Transparency
Being part of a team and feeling connected to those you work with, all working to achieve a common goal, is critical to employee engagement. Working in an open, transparent environment toward that goal is even better.

Sixth Inch: Attaboys and Attagirls
Without a doubt, recognition for your work gives you that sense of accomplishment and belonging. We feel like we’ve added value, while at the same time, it boosts our own sense of worth.

Stan calls the last three inches “Building,” which he describes as empowering employees to learn, give back, and take control of their destinies.

Seventh Inch: Training and Development
Wouldn’t you be excited about working for a company that helps you (or wants you to) grow as an individual and as an employee? That includes both in-house and external training, as well as tuition reimbursement. Both companies and employees benefit from this leg of the journey, where companies truly invest in their employees.

Eighth Inch: Giving Back and Paying It Forward
Making it easy for employees to give back, pay it forward, and offer up their time to serve those in need certainly shows that the company cares about humanity, in general.

Ninth Inch: Empowering Dreams and Goals
Stan describes this final inch of the journey as enabling employees to do their best. Help them find their way, support them with training and resources, and then step aside so they can do what they need to do.

Love this quote from the book by Google’s Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock when ask why Google sets the gold standard for taking care of customers:

“It turns out that the reason we’re doing these things for employees is not because it’s important to the business, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. And from a company standpoint, that makes it better to care than not to care.”

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