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Why The Future Belongs to Companies Who Create The Employees They Want (Part 2)

Consider these examples of companies that are doing this now – helping their employees experience a transformation. 

I’ve already pointed out the list of 104 companies who reimburse their employees for educational expenses. Consider these companies too…

Costco

This excerpt from The Hustle tells you all you need to know about how Costco treats its employees: 

Retail workers are among America’s lowest-paid employees, earning an average of around $10 per hour. They rarely get full benefits, and their employers view them as expendable (turnover rates are as high as 65%).

But Costco realizes that it is more cost effective to retain happy employees and — brace yourself — actually pay them a livable wage, than it is to churn and burn. 

The average pay among its 245,000 workers (143,000 full-time, 102,000 part-time) works out to $21 per hour, double the national retail average and nearly 2x Walmart’s going rate. Moreover, 88% of Costco workers receive company-sponsored health insurance.

This mentality that has earned the company some of the highest retention rates in the industry — and many employees stay at Costco for more than a decade.

‘I don’t see what’s wrong with an employee earning enough to be able to buy a house or have a health plan for the family,’ Sinegal once told the Los Angeles Times. 

Investors, however, haven’t always seen it that way.

Senegal’s words express a clear vision of who he wants his employees to become: homeowners with healthy families. 

It’s inspiring. 

Weave

Weave, a patient communication platform for medical practices, is investing to give every employee a career coach. 

Here’s what one of Weave’s employees, Benjamin Ard, the Senior Director of Demand, said: 

“Weave is now offering career coaching for every single employee. How amazing is that? 

Executives, directors and managers have already started their coaching sessions and I can tell you it’s amazing. It can be painful getting brutally honest feedback, but if you embrace it there are positive impacts not only in your career, but in all aspects of life.

To kick off coaching for the whole company, Weave hosted its first annual UP Summit (UP stands for unity and possibility – which is also the meaning of our logo) at Vivint Smart Home Arena. 

We heard from our CEO, Brandon Rodman, two-time author Whitney Johnson, and three-time Olympic gold medal winner Misty May-Treanor. 

Brandon made a comment that really stuck out to me. He mentioned that coaching shouldn’t be a competitive advantage for Weave, but should be used by every company to better their employees. It will be an advantage for us until everyone catches on, but I love that the true mission of Weave and our CEO is to not only help develop individuals inside the organization, but also set a higher standard for working environments in the state.”

Again, inspiring. 

What if there’s resistance? 

Make no mistake. This is about WAY MORE than company culture. We’ve been beat like racehorses by all the “culture” and “leadership” gurus on stages around the world. This is about understanding the need for and making a plan to facilitate TRANSFORMATION in the individuals who work for you. 

It’s not just about creating a safe work environment (though that is crucial). This about creating an organization that takes inputs (employees) and produces outputs (insightful, inspired, and TRANSFORMED human beings). 

Many will resist this idea. Reasons include: 

  • It requires too much change. It’s easier to go as we are.
  • I don’t know ho
  • I have too many employee
  • Making a change to one part of my business will create unwanted ripple effects.
  • I don’t get it.
  • I don’t believe it.
  • It’s just a fad.

Excuses, excuses.

Often though, these reasons for not taking action are just excuses. Stories that we tell ourselves because the idea of taking on this responsibility feels overwhelming. 

There’s 2 things you need to know about this:

  1. All you need to start is MOMENTUM. You don’t need to create massive change at the on-set. Start small (or start big… Weave did), be OK with going slow, and remind yourself where you’re going. Once you get momentum and buy in, the joy is in the journey. One day you’ll look back and go “wow… look at how we’ve all changed.” I am not so naive to think that these types of changes will happen overnight. They take time – especially if your organization has never considered this need for transformation. Start small, be OK with going slow, and remember where you’re going. You don’t have to start with the entire company. Pick a department, a person, or just yourself. 
  2. A coach can help you. I am a firm believer in coaching. I think everyone in the world ought to have a coach of some kind. I’m 25 years old and have personally invested over $6,000 of my own money in personal coaching and training. That doesn’t include the money spend on my college degree. A coach provides an outside perspective and establishes a pattern for accountability that will ensure you see results. Whatever change you seek to make, get a coach to help you make it. Coaching is one of the surest ways to get an ROI on any organizational change endeavor. 

Taking Action

Here’s a guide to help you get started.; to get some momentum. Because that’s the thing you need right now. 

1. Articulate an Employee Vision 

Do you want to be KNOWN as a company that transforms peoples’ lives or actually BE a company that transforms peoples’ lives?

We’re all familiar with company vision and mission statements. The problem is, they’re usually selfish and only put on the wall because companies want to be KNOWN for what’s on the mission. They’re not actually that interested in BEING what’s on it. 

“We want to be the best service provider in our market.” 

“Our goal is to provide unparalleled service to all our customers.” 

“Honesty, integrity, and quality are what we stand for.” 

Yawn.

Even if you do want your company to BE those things, that’s great. But why should I care? What’s in it for ME as an employee?

You can have a company vision, but let’s also articulate an employee vision. It’s a simple statement of who you want your employees to become.  

Keep this simple. 

It can be done for your employees collectively, by department, or by individual. Ask yourselves: what attributes, characteristics, expectations, and behaviors are we trying to instill in our people?

How do you describe the kind of person you want your employees to become? 

Be specific with it. 

Consider this example of a customer vision (this comes from the book Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?): Facebook literally asks its customers to become open and sharing with personal information. 

Google asks its customers to become searchers. 

Simple, very specific. 

Your employee vision statement might say: We want our employees to become those who go beyond expectations without being asked. 

Or, we want our employees to feel the courage to talk about problems in the office. 

Or, we want our employees to become extremely effective in over-communicating important details. 

You don’t have to and shouldn’t cover EVERYTHING you want your employees to become in the long run. That will lead to burn out and lack of execution. You’ll feel overwhelmed. Plus, that’s what future innovations and leadership retreats are for. Instead, focus on the most important attributes you want to help your employees to gain now

Who do you want them to become in the next 6 months? 

2. Align Employee Vision with Employee Experience

Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if the system the CSRs are operating in added to the customer and employee experience rather than get in the way of it?

Next, take steps to align who you want your employees to become with what you ask your employees to do every day. 

I have coached manyCSRs who hesitate to invest time into building trust at the beginning of their phone calls (this is something we coach on) because their software requires an address first. 

In other words… before the CSR can do anything for the customer, they have to appease the system by getting the customer’s address. 

We can coach them to provide a WOW experience for the customer given the constraints they have to work in, but wouldn’t it be better for everyone if the system the CSRs are operating in added to the customer and employee experience rather than get in the way of it?

You have to align what you ask your people to do every day with the transformation you seek to help them make. 

In another example, you may be asking your employees to become the kind of people who over-communicate important information, but your organization is set up to be so fast-paced that your employees don’t actually have time to communicate even the minimum information they need to. 

How well does what you ask your employees to do every day align with who you want your employees to become? 

This is about creating tasks and habits that contribute to both the company’s larger goals relating to revenue and other important metrics and the employee vision. 

3. Identify and Reduce Friction 

Let’s identify where the points of friction are. 

Identify a position (or positions) in your company you want to begin creating a transformation for. To reduce overwhelm and give you some momentum, I suggest picking a position where changes will lead to the lowest ripple effect throughout the company.

What does their average day look like from beginning to end? Identify each activity and ask “is this contributing to the fulfillment of our employee vision?” 

If the answer is yes, move on to the next thing. If the answer is no, identify all the other positions in the company that would be affected by a change to that activity.

Keep in mind, we’re not trying to make drastic changes here. We’re just trying to get momentum. If you feel like making a particular change will result in too much organizational change, simply take note of it and move on to the next thing.

Now that you know which activities are creating friction and whom within the organization they affect, brainstorm a change. It could be simple or major. It’s up to you. 

You may need to add a new person to the team to help even out everyone’s workload, allowing for less stress and more communication. 

You may need to add a daily huddle with your team to review important metrics.

Maybe you ought to schedule weekly one-on-ones between team members and their direct supervisor for accountability and communication. 

Perhaps you need to invest in an external coaching program to improve a skill like call-handling.

It may be time to make a bigger change and move to a new software system that reduces friction from work.

Or maybe there’s a meeting you’re holding too often that can be eliminated completely. 

The possibilities are endless… 

The main thing here is to identify the friction between who you want your employees to become and what you ask them to do every day, and make a change that results in a win/win for everyone. 

  1. Let’s start with a commitment to invest in the capabilities of our people. 
  2. Let’s create an employee vision. Who do you want them to become? 
  3. Align your employee vision (who you want your employees to become) with your employee experience (what you ask them to do every day). 
  4. Create an execution plan
  5. Establish new and higher norms in the organization to ensure fulfillment

We Live on a Curve 

There’s a reason, I believe, that Seth Godin’s list of companies who reimburse their people for educational expenses is so short: we’re at the front of the bell curve on this new idea. 

Now is the time for the “early ones.” The ones who go first, assume more risk than others, and take pride in being different. 

Eventually, though, the rest of society will catch on. Companies will realize that the burden of education and creating inspired, insightful, and skilled employees rests on them. They will realize that the dream candidate isn’t going to fall in their lap. 

We live on a curve after all. A curve where some get started fast, others join in later, some don’t join until they absolutely have to, and others don’t join until it’s too late… 

Who will you be? Who do you want your employees to become? What transformation will you help them experience? And how will you bring it to life?


Zac Garside is just a young dad with a beautiful family and goal to spend his 40th birthday on a bungalow in Bora Bora.

He also can’t decide if it’s more appropriate to write his bio in the first person or third person, but that’s neither here nor there.

Dream big.