This is Part 3 of a 3-Part Culture Series. Parts 1 & 2 discuss fostering an award-winning agency culture and engaging Millennials.
You get up one morning at 5:30 am. The sun isn’t even up yet and it’s 10 degrees outside. Your mind starts playing games as you put on your shoes “Your bed was so much warmer than it’s going to be outside.” “Didn’t you just run yesterday???” “This sock is too hard to put on – just give up.” “Ughhhhhh, whyyyy!”
Does that affect your running performance? Yes.
It’s 6:00 pm on Thursday: the day after hump-day! It’s been a long day at work and a long week, for that matter. You’re draggin’ a bit when you pick up the kids from school. They get in the car and immediately start picking on each other. You’re thinking: “Seriously?? You two can’t have just 5 peaceful minutes?? Argggghhhh.”
Does that affect your “kid care” performance? Yes.
It’s the weekend. You get to do what you want! You see your roommate making a B-line for you while you’re making eggs and those thoughts pop up again: “Wait….why does she have such a determined look on her face? What’s that in her hand? Is that a list?? Oh HECK no! I literally just cleaned the bathroom a week ago!”
Does that affect your “to-do list” performance? Yes.
Culture is often thought of as the touchy-feely part of work. The part that isn’t as important because it’s not a $$-figure addressed during board meetings.
What’s often forgotten is that “the touchy-feely” impacts performance. How I *feel* about running affects how I run. How my partner *feels* when the kids start screaming 2 minutes after getting into the car affects how she interacts with them. How I *feel* about a to-do list affects the speed and quality of my work.
Imagine if you attacked every above situation with mind-blowingly positive, motivated and inspired energy. Imagine if you enjoyed every run, the presence of your kids no matter what mood they’re in and even the longest of to-do lists. You’d probably see a faster mile per minute, less tension/more patience and a bathroom so sparkly that it blinds.
In the same way, an employee can work for one hour just to finish a project and get a check. But if they feel unmotivated and no real inspiration or positivity, then that hour of productivity will result in a particular outcome. Let’s say another person shows up for the same amount of time to finish a similar project. But this person feels like their company is awesome, they feel committed to team and company goals and they even feel supported in their personal goals, the output from that hour of productivity will be immensely superior in quality and quantity.
Maybe “the touchy-feely” is more important than we think.
TrustedChoice.com experienced a new appreciation for “the feels” of its employees 2 years ago….and it’s made a massive difference. We used to be A Culture of No. When an employee was asked if X was possible, there would be a lot of ‘hemming and haughing’ and eventually an answer of ‘ehhhh, we probably shouldn’t do that because a/b/c.’ 2 years after our C-suite started being more intentional about culture, we have now become A Culture of Yes. Ask someone in our office if something is possible and you’ll get a ‘I’m not sure, but let’s try it out.’
That’s a HUGE change. And it’s rooted in how people feel…about the company, its objectives, our management, other coworkers and our individual responsibilities.
An insurance agency in Florida, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, also believes in this transforming power of culture. For them, culture is more than ping-pong tables and a Wii. It’s the beliefs and mindset of their employees that drives behavior within and across teams. It’s intricately tied to their bottom line and it is brought up in board meetings. For any agency owners who may be on the fence about culture, check out how BKS measures the ROI of their cultural investment:
1. Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is one of the most direct ways to measure culture. An unhealthy culture can result in office stagnancy with employees who are disinterested in and detached from their work, saying “No” more often than “Yes.”
Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners tracks their employee engagement through periodical surveys and the progress/completion of set individual/team goals. Their continued efforts to build the BKS culture has resulted in a year-over-year increase in employee engagement. In 2016, it increased 9% (it was 82% in 2015).
Why does this matter? Many workplace studies have identified a correlation between employee engagement and increased productivity. According to Gallup, organizations where employee engagement is above-average have 147% higher earnings per share (EPS). And according to Dale Carnegie, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.
That’s a fancy way of saying that employees who are more committed to, motivated by and happy with their work are more “engaged” and WILL produce more for your business. Hence the reason BKS measures cultural ROI through employee engagement.
2. Client Retention
Many measure the impact of culture through their organization’s churn rate. That’s fair, considering employees do leave unhealthy workplaces (they also leave for other reasons). But while employee retention rate can be an indication of your culture’s success, client retention rate is a much stronger signal, according to Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.
It’s said that energy is infectious; well, so is culture. The happiness and well-being of engaged employees is transferred directly to clients. It’s how an employee picks up the phone or answers an email, how they respond to client issues, the extra work they put in to make a client happy and why a client leaves with a smile on their face.
Yes – the quality of your product is first and foremost (aka you can’t sell someone a terrible policy, but do everything else right and think they’ll stick around). But the experience you give your customers every time your staff touches them can make or break a relationship.
BKS reported a 97.3% client retention rate in 2016. That’s in comparison to the 85% industry standard.
And what do they primarily attribute it to?
3. Organic Growth Rate
You probably saw this one and went “psh, growth rate? Seriously? Growth rate is the result of *way* more than culture.”
I agree. So does BKS.
Growth rate is the combination of efficient workplace processes, a sales team who puts the pedal to the metal, a solid community reputation, affordable insurance products for the right niche and a host of other things.
But the way Elizabeth Krystyn and her BKS team sees it: “None of this would be possible and certainly none of it would be as fun without a strong, positive culture.”
You have to have a team of people willing to come to work every single day and consistently implement your vision to accomplish growth. Culture is your Red Bull, your Starbucks double-shot, the energy and motivation that keeps everyone pushing.
So, yes, while BKS may not attribute all the success of their incredible 34% growth rate to culture; they certainly see it as a strong indicator that their culture is alive, well and kickin’ some butt.
More BKS Culture Resources
If you’re interested in learning more about the BKS culture, check out the two articles below.
- Part One: How An Introverted Agency Partner Fostered A Culture That’s Won 9 Awards
- Part Two: Why These 3 Agency Partners Think Millennials are Geniuses
Thanks (as always) for reading, friends!