Pay Execs Based on Employee Happiness

This is the last post in our series on Employee Obsession. It will focus on how to drive employee obsession in your company.

Over the past six weeks we have covered a variety of topics related to employee engagement. If there is one thing I'd like you to walk away with it is in the Age of Automation employees matter more than ever. Despite advances in technology, and often because of them, people are still your number one asset. Automating mundane, repetitive tasks leaves challenging work for employees. Thus the fight for top talent intensifies and only employee obsessed organizations will survive. In short, people matter now more than ever.

With that concept top of mind, we have covered a lot of ground. Here are all of the posts:

The Foundation Has Been Laid

As a quick recap, Jaspar and I came to the realization that our success would come as a result of focusing on employees. We prioritized the interests in our business to firmly put employees first, before customers and ultimately, ahead of shareholders.

We focus on three key areas to ensure we have happy, engaged employees:

  • Great facilities
  • Amazing benefits
  • Connection to leadership

This approach has worked for us. Our Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is 63, up from our original score of 4, and our promoters significantly outperform detractors and have:

  • 11% better attendance
  • 14% better quality of work
  • 18% better productivity

Equally important, we also know our detractors have a 27% higher attrition rate than our promoters.

Every Company Needs Happy Employees

Let's take a quick step back and look at why engaged employees are so valuable to any business. The Gallup report I cited in an earlier post shows that a full 51% of employees come to work, but are not engaged, and 16% are actively disengaged, meaning they are working against their employer. Quick math says that two-thirds of the American workforce is not in the game. That can quickly cripple your reputation and your business. In today's highly-competitive market, culture is key, and the right culture yields employees who are valued, challenged and find deep purpose in their work. And the effort that they put into their jobs results in higher revenue for their employers.

In my last post, I talked about the Virtuous Cycle Up Market. Something similar can be found in Bain & Co.'s Net Promoter System ®. They refer to it as The Promoter Flywheel, and it is nearly identical to our model. This is how it works: By investing in employees, you create a place where good people want to work. These high-caliber employees want to deliver great results to customers and that causes customers to buy more goods and services. As this happens, revenue increases and your investors are happy. It is a well-balanced ecosystem that looks like this:

Build Your Own eNPS Strategy

Now, let's talk about how you can actually build your own employee satisfaction program and improve employee engagement. Here is a look at these steps in more detail.

Once you have made the decision to commit to an employee-centric culture, settle on the metric that best suites you. This could be employee satisfaction (eSAT), employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) or employee engagement scores. At TaskUs, we use eNPS, which is very similar to Customer Net Promoter Score (cNPS), the standard within the customer experience industry for gauging the loyalty of a company's client relationships. The cNPS framework asks, "On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend [brand name] to a friend or family member?". To determine our eNPS, we morph this question to understand our relationship with our employees by asking, "How likely are you to recommend TaskUs as a place to work to friends and family?".

Having chosen the metric you want to measure, do your research. Find a methodology that works for you and partner with a survey company that is a good fit for your organization. Companies like Culture IQ will help create the right survey for you, so don't spend valuable time reinventing the wheel.

Beyond the standard NPS or SAT question, ask questions that measure satisfaction in a few key areas. For example facilities, IT and compensation and benefits. Allow for verbatim comments after each of these measurements. In addition to verbatim comments on each topic area be sure to include a general comments sections, to allow teammates to provide valuable feedback. Finally collect general census data - department, location and years of tenure.

Having done eNPS surveys for a while now, here are a few tips:

  • Make the survey anonymous and tell your employees it is anonymous. Create an environment of trust so they give you honest feedback in their responses. This is critical, so you will have to repeat this message many times. You will also need to set up the surveys so you cannot dissect the data to determine who said what. Anonymity is key.
  • Survey quarterly and drive participation. Incentivize participation by communicating about the survey, setting aside time to complete it during meetings or at the start of a shift and rewarding teams that hit 90% participation (or whatever you think is appropriate) with an activity they enjoy.

Once you have collected results it is time to analyze. Slice and dice the data based on the census information, review all of the verbatim comments and find common themes. Build a presentation that captures these themes and stays as close to the raw data as possible. Review that presentation with your senior leadership team. Share all of the verbatim comments with the senior leadership team - but be sure to have HR sanitize any comments that name people directly or reveal someone's identity.

With information in hand, get actionable. Create action items based on employee feedback that are specific and measurable. Do not create nebulous goals. When you set targets for revenue and EBITDA, they are specific and measurable and managed with a fine-tooth comb. Your targets for improving employee happiness and engagement should be no different. Be specific.

Next it is time to be transparent with the rest of the company. Create a presentation that is similar to the one you used with the leadership team and report back to all employees. Present the top and bottom categories, the associated action items and the owners of these items. This shows your employees that you are listening to them and taking action on what they told you. We always communicate that every comment has been read, and we also give a disclosure that we cannot address everyone's concerns, but will be focusing on the areas where we can have the most impact.

After reporting back to your employees, make the goals you have set public. We put ours on the wall and they also appear at the top of each of our management team meeting agendas. Check on the progress towards these goals often. You should have both quarterly and annual goals to measure your culture and employee engagement. As an example, our 2017 goal is a blended eNPS score of 65 across all sites globally. Each site has their own goal that is assigned to a specific owner, generally a site or HR leader, so they focus on improving their specific site.

These leaders then need to commit to quarterly initiatives that make your front-line management team stronger. We generally have a company-wide project each quarter that helps us achieve our annual eNPS goal. As an example, we recently launched our Team Leader Academy to help develop leaders within TaskUs because we believe a strong team of front-line managers will provide our front-line employees with crucial coaching and employee development that will improve our eNPS score and the results we deliver for our clients. This is a perfect example of putting the Virtuous Cycle Up Market into practice.

Publicly committing to goals is a first step. Even more important is holding yourself accountable for achieving or failing to achieve these goals. When you review your survey results in your quarterly meetings, start with your previous score and the associated action items, as well as your progress to date. Show if they were completed or not and, if necessary, talk about what you are doing to complete them. Prove to your employees that people are being held accountable by starting with yourself. Always be transparent and make the information public.

Typically, the person who is ultimately responsible for the annual target is the CEO or Co-Founders. At TaskUs, Jaspar and I share the responsibility with the executive team. We put our money where our mouth is. Our executive team (ourselves included) has a portion of their bonuses driven by our eNPS score. If employees are unhappy we get paid less.

I hope this series has been helpful and that it has you thinking about how to implement your own strategy to improve employee engagement and your culture. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. And please share any of your own successes about being employee-centric, so we can all learn together.

Bryce Maddock

CEO and Founder
August 08, 2017