Actions Speak Louder than Mission Statements

REI Storefront

I am a sucker for a good employee PR story. By now surely you’ve read the headlines about REI and their #optoutside campaign. The outdoor retailer just went rock star status by opting out of Black Friday. Just as many other retailers are putting the finishing touches on their 1am, 3am and 5am super sales and doorbusters which require their employees to skip out on Thanksgiving dinner, REI has said that’s enough. To take it a step further they are encouraging employees at their 143 retail stores, and 5.5 million members, to get outside too. The message is to ‘get outside’ on Black Friday. And, the icing on the cake is that they are paying their employees to take the day off.

This is good news. Finally, a popular retailer choosing the good life. This one action tells us that REI is choosing to value its employees, workforce, culture and brand above all else. Think about it, this is 100% on-brand for REI. Their President and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, announced this bold move on the REI website. He said, “We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”

 

Employee engagement can save a company millions in promotion

Advertising is expensive and the ability to reach consumers via television news, social media, newspapers, magazines and personal conversations is arguably impossible unless there is a news story. In REI’s case, one new story about their business strategy that highlights the underlying tone of employee engagement is the golden ticket. Millions saved.  

 

Actions speak louder than mission statements

The case for engaging the workforce has always been there. REI just magnified it for all other employers to contemplate. And contemplate you should!  

Bold moves like this send a bold message to employees, stakeholders (in REI’s case, it’s members), and the public about REI’s brand. Actions absolutely speak louder than a company brand document or mission statement could ever dream of speaking. Think about it, if you work in retail and you’ve been mangled by previous Black Fridays your opinion of REI as a potential employer just went way up. You get the day off, you get to #optoutside and you get paid for it. Now that’s something to brag about at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

 

Employees are talking, what they say is up to you

Good news travels fast. In this case, it was lightening fast and shared a gazillion times globally. Bad news has a way of creeping out too. Employees talk, text and post about businesses. Yes they do.

Take it from Glassdoor, employees are talking. According to their website, “Glassdoor holds a growing database of more than 8 million company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.” Anyone who signs up for a free account can get this information. Let’s compare a few companies;

 

Company Star Rating (0-5) Would Recommend to a friend Approve of the CEO

REI

4 Stars 84% 89%
Dicks Sporting Goods 3.2 Stars 57% 69%
Sports Authority 2.9 Stars 42%

59%

 

As a comparison, Google ranks #1 on Glassdoor’s list of Best Places to Work.

Company Star Rating (0-5) Would Recommend to a friend Approve of the CEO
Google 4.4 Stars 90% 96%

 

Now, let’s look at Amazon which was recently highlighted in a New York Times article published in August that highlighted its lack of work/life balance.

Company Star Rating (0-5) Would Recommend to a friend Approve of the CEO
Amazon 3.4 Stars 62% 80%

 

The ratings aren’t bad but take it one step deeper by looking at the comments taken directly from Glassdoor. Ouch.

 

 

Amazon on Glass Door

 

Glassdoor is not the only way employees share information about a company. Twitter (#Ihatemyjob, #ilovemyjob), Facebook, LinkedIn and sometimes even Yelp will tell the world how things are going down inside a company. And take it from Amazon, you don’t want “not the best work-life balance” splashed all over news and social media.

Steven R. Covey told us to “Always treat your employees exactly like you want them to treat your best customers.” What can you do, as an employer or leader at your company, to take action to ensure this philosophy is alive and well in your workplace? 

 

Take action

What can entrepreneurs, company presidents, business owners and leaders do to garner good workplace PR?

  1. Analyze the perception of the business in it’s current state.
    1. External analysis; Research online (Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). First look at these external sources to see what, if anything is published.
    2. Internal analysis; conduct an employee engagement survey and stay interviews.
    3. Then identify the top three areas of strength and top areas of opportunity to focus on. Both of these are important.
  2. Evaluate your benefits. If you are a financial services company, you want your retirement plan to be the talk of the town. Setting your own employees up for retirement success will translate naturally into your brand. Similarly, a chiropractor whose wellness benefits rock (massage benefits in the healthcare plan, work/life balance, etc.) is on-brand. On the contrary, a dental office who offers subpar dental insurance is off-brand. Evaluate your benefits to understand if you are on-brand internally. Employees will talk and you want them to be raving fans both as an employee and as an ambassador of your service or product. 
  3. Make a bold change. Just like REI. Buck the system, be a rebel in your industry. Is keeping up with the Joneses off-brand for your company? A bold change may be just what’s needed to boost your brand both internally and externally. 

 

Businesses who land on the local, regional or national Best Places to Work list also have an easier time recruiting. It’s a momentous cycle.

A workforce that is engaged is invaluable. Employees are your best recruiters. The engaged employee who casually boasts about her employer in public (while in line at Starbucks, at happy hour and even online) create positive opinions in the marketplace. Multiply that by the number of employees in your workforce like Google’s 57,100 and the result is an army of employees radiating in the public about their stellar employer. Now, that’s good PR and the birthplace of attracting strong talent. Do the math, the average executive search has a fee of 20-35% of base salary. Employers who maintain an engaged workforce have top performers knocking at their door to get in. That’s a huge recruitment savings and the result of attracting top talent is the same.  

Google is ranked #1 on the list of the 100 Best Places to Work according to Fortune.com for the sixth year in a row. They have made bold moves to continually engage their workforce and be on the forefront of this movement. They know that an engaged workforce is invaluable and creates a momentous cycle of attracting even more top talent. The time is ripe for all employers to take bold moves to strategically engage the workforce.Unemployment is low, talent is hard to find and the economy is strong.

Be bold.

 

 

 

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