Why Our Employees Asked Us To Stop Giving Away Cars
Easy-to-implement ideas to improve your corporate culture and drive employee engagement
We gave a new car away to our employees every other month, six cars in total, to keep the motivation and excitement up among our best performing sales agents. We were really impressed with ourselves and wanted to know what else we could do to improve the happiness factor. We sent out a survey (which we still do today) to ask our employees about the cleanliness, the temperature in the building, the security, the lighting, the management, the pay, the incentives, the likelihood that they’d leave if another company offered them more money, all-in-all we had about twenty five questions. Two months later the same survey showed that the work space was cleaner, the building temperature more comfortable, the security better, the lights brighter, the managers more helpful, the pay was better, our incentive plan produced better results, and less of our employees would leave for more money.
How did we manage to change our employees’ perception and why did they want us to stop giving away cars?
[wcm_restrict]First off, we discovered our core values. Five years ago, in our second year of business, we asked employees to write a statement that would define what Listen Up Español wanted to be when it grew up. We compiled a list of approximately 30 things that we wanted to be recognized for and went through a rigorous process to determine our seven core values. Some of the 30 were merged together, others were deemed less important; however, over three days we were able to determine the most significant characteristics of our business. Then we set out to support those core values.
If you haven’t determined your precise list of values, you can still implement the following ideas based on values you want your company to embrace in order to improve your corporate culture.
To ensure you’re able to prove your success, send out a survey to employees about the current company culture. Ask them to rate agent pay, schedule, commissions, management, lighting, cleanliness, etc. Then implement a few projects that align with the values you have or would like to have in your business.
At Listen Up Español, the value of “Going Beyond Ourselves” is very important. We decided to align with a non-profit organization that builds schools in impoverished communities in Latin America and also supports young Hispanics living in the United States. We worked with our partners to donate $1.00 for every sale of a specific product that could be sold across all product lines. In total we donated over $30,000 over two months. Our corporate culture department set out a video contest to employees and the winners went to Nicaragua for a week to help build a school in the town of Jicaro.
We also believe in “Growing Brain Cells” so we bought multiple copies of approximately fifty books that aligned with our business and built our own library. Our employees look forward to the new business books that we constantly bring to the library.
Our business strives to be “United as One” so in our survey when we asked about incentives the feedback showed that winning a car is great for the one person who wins the car, and it does align with our core value of “Living Life Like an Extreme Sport” however the majority of our employees, including the top performers, asked us to stop giving away the cars and come up with a broader selection of incentives that gets as many people as possible to benefit.
But wait, there’s more! By donating a dollar per sale to a non-profit, we increased conversions by an amazing 17 percent. We saved money, we improved performance, and by listening to our employees (which costs nothing) we raised the happiness bar and changed the perception of the company.
Here are eight ways to put focus on your culture:
- Hire a culture manager. Someone who specializes in projects that support the values you want in your business.
- Add some unconventional questions to your interview process. Experience is part of the picture, but hiring someone who fits your culture is more important.
- Hire slowly and fire quickly. As soon as you’re not sure about someone in your company than it’s time to replace them. If you’re asking yourself if they are the right person they aren’t.
- Be transparent with your company goals & financials. Everyone in your company has an oar. If they paddle together you get there quicker.
- The 10-minute meeting. Do one everyday. Each department head will share good news whether personal or business. They will mention challenges/stuck points they are having and who they need help from.
- Are there books that help you define what your business is? That shaped your ideas? Buy copies and give them away or loan them out. Consider promoting 5 hours a week dedicated to “growing brain cells.”
- Give back. Find a cause your team believes in and set up projects that rally around that cause. Don’t give money away just to do it. Set goals and give away money as a company when goals are achieved. You can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself.
- Have fun outside of work. If you’re culture is taking shape, the people in your business are people who you relate to and enjoy. Spend time with them. If you wouldn’t have them over to a barbeque than they don’t belong in your company.
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About the Author
Craig Handley is a networking monster with an unstoppable combination of hard work, ingenuity, and creativity that has sparked the vision and growth that drives the success of Listen Up Español. Craig’s expertise in maximizing the sales process – and Listen Up Español’s impressive track record of higher conversion rates and higher average order value than any other Spanish language call center – was achieved from the ground up, having started his professional career in door-to-door sales and rising through the ranks in many call centers. He is well known for being an entrepreneur who lives and breathes the Maverick motto: “Make More Money, Have More Fun, and Give More Back.”
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