4 Things Happier Employees Do Better

Happy People are Productive People

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from December 2016, Americans spend nearly 40% of their day working - more than any other single activity in their day.

How do you spend 40% of your day? Are you happy at work?  

Unhappy people are unproductive people. Through our research, we have found that satisfied employees score higher on attendance, quality, productivity, and retention. Lots of third party research affirms this. According to a December 2016 study by the University of Warwick, there is a direct correlation between happiness and increased productivity.

So, let's say you're happy and productive. Would you recommend your current employer to your friends and family? And furthermore, what type of people would you recommend? My guess is other hardworking, motivated employees that inspire you - ones that ultimately make a difference and grow the company you enjoy working for.

The Ugly Truth

At TaskUs, we know our employee-centric culture is a major differentiator for us - see last week's post, "Do Employees Matter Anymore"? I have found most companies live in an ignorant bliss; they self-select to listen to clients, customers, and employees that sing their praises. While it's my favorite part of my day to listen to how great I am, I know we have to hear the other side of the story. And, it can be painful.

The full story isn't told through anecdotes in the hallway; we need real data to drive real business decisions. As a customer support business, we ask customers every day to rate our service and judge our performance based on how likely they are to recommend the product we are supporting. So we ask the same of our employees - "How likely are you to recommend TaskUs as a place to work to friends and family?"

Does your employer ask you this?

Jaspar and I built the culture we ourselves would want to work in, but as the company scaled we knew we may not be getting real, unvarnished feedback about how our employees perceived the culture. This was the impetus behind instituting our quarterly Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) surveys back in 2014. Measuring employee satisfaction is still an emerging science, but companies that are committed to employee satisfaction are on the leading edge of this movement.

You may be surprised to learn that Bain & Company, the internationally renowned consulting powerhouse, is doing some really interesting work around employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) with some of their clients. Consulting firms are often associated with long hours, extreme travel schedules and high burn-out, but even these giants are easing up a bit and creating a better culture for their employees. And they are doing the same for their clients. The effects of employee satisfaction are real and TaskUs believes it is only going to become increasingly important, which is why we put so much rigor around how we measure and improve eNPS.

Our Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) Methodology

As is standard within the customer experience industry, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) framework asks "On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend [brand name] to a friend or family member?". We morph this question to understand our relationship with our employees and ask: "How likely are you to recommend TaskUs as a place to work to friends and family?".

For those of you not familiar with NPS surveys, they are based on a ten-point scale, with ten being an outstanding score and zero being a horrible score. The standard process is to conduct the survey, compile all the respondents, and then aggregate the results. Take the total number of respondents who are Promoters (those awarding a score of 9 or 10) and subtract all respondents who are Detractors (those awarding a score of 0 to 6). Those who report a 7 or 8 are Passive. The sum is your eNPS score, and it can range anywhere from -100 to +100. It's also important to note that Passive respondents (7s or 8s), do not add to or take away from your overall eNPS score.

As an example, you have 1,000 survey respondents. 400 of your employees give scores of 9 and 10 and are Promoters. Another 200 give scores of anywhere from 0 to 6 and are Detractors. Finally, the remaining 400 give scores of 7 and 8 and are Passives. This means that 40% of your employees are Promoters and 20% are Detractors, yielding an eNPS of 20.

Yes, Our First eNPS Score Was a 4

Employee surveys are an act of trust between employees and the employer and should not be entered into lightly. Employees want their answers to be taken seriously and they also want management to listen and act on the feedback they give. TaskUs surveys our entire global workforce every quarter and we listen intently to what our employees tell us, and, most importantly, we take action on it. Our executive compensation is tied directly to improvement in our eNPS scores - more about this in a future chapter.

We still use those original results as a benchmark to measure just how far we have come in creating an employee-centric company. In Jaspar's article, "Why Employee Obsession Matters", he recalled when we first administered the survey, we thought we had a great culture. But our perception was far from reality.

Our score was a four. Yes, you read that right.  We had nearly as many Promoters as we did Detractors.

Instead of ignore the data and continue on our path of blissful ignorance, we took ownership of that score, rolled up our sleeves, and went to work.

A quick word of caution here. Employees often hold their employer to even higher standards than customers do, so if you are serious about creating a workplace where your employees are ridiculously happy, brace yourself for some tough feedback and some hard work. You cannot go back, your employees will resent you for it.  It isn't easy, but the rewards are huge.

When we put our heads down and went to work, we did not focus on the eNPS scores of other companies. In fact, most companies don't survey their employees, anyways. Even so, that would be comparing apples to oranges. We looked only at TaskUs because that was all that mattered to us. Petrified of that score of 4, we poured over the corresponding qualitative survey answers to understand the primary reasons Promoters, Passives and Detractors gave for their scores.

Our goal was to take the positive feedback from Promoters and find ways to apply their feedback to help us move Passives up the scale. We also wanted to understand what was holding Passives back, and to do that, we had to figure out what was holding them back from being Promoters. Were there some quick wins we could address quickly to boost satisfaction and were there significant challenges that would require longer-term solutions? Finally, we had to understand what was at the root of the Detractors' scores. Were there clear themes and did their feedback suggest we needed to make some major changes?

Rocking the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

Ashamed and humbled by our score, we set out to create the most employee-centric culture we could. We believed in our people and invested in world-class facilities, gave our employees the best benefits in the marketplace, and stayed laser focussed on our core values. And what we are doing is working. Our eNPS has steadily risen nearly every quarter topping out at a 63, a 16X improvement over our first survey in 2014.

Through our dedication to improving our employee satisfaction, we studied the unique qualities of Promoters to confirm our beliefs that these happy employees were in fact better performing.

1. We found that Promoters, meaning employees who rated TaskUs a 9 or 10, have 11% better attendance than Detractors.  

2. Promoters have 14% better quality of work, judged by the quality score (CSAT or NPS or other) that is present in all of our client work. This is important to our clients because fewer errors results in a better customer experience, and, oftentimes, repeat business. One bad experience can spoil a brand for a customer, so having employees who deliver high-quality work is important.


3. Promoters are 18% more productive and deliver 6% better customer satisfaction than their counterparts. Our facilities, which I'll be talking about in a later post, are designed to be a home-away-from-home for our employees. They can take relaxing, energizing breaks and go right back to work. This creates an environment where employees can be more productive and do better work, and that's exactly what our promoters do.

4. We also found that attrition is 27% higher among Detractors than it is among Promoters. Attrition is a silent killer in our industry. The cost to recruit, train and replace a teammate is equivalent to six months salary, so our ability to reduce this number has an immediate impact on our bottom line.

Establishing a culture that incubates Promoters isn't simply for altruistic reasons. It makes good business sense on your top- and bottom-line. Every business wants employees that are present, are engaged, are efficient, produce quality work, and are loyal. And, we want them to refer their friends.

So we confirmed that promoters are in fact better employees. So we began to ask ourselves, "How do we create more Promoters?" More on this next week.

Bryce Maddock

CEO and Founder
July 11, 2017