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Does your company love you enough to deal with your dirty laundry?

nextjump_logo_blackEmployees at Next Jump in New York City are routinely asked the following question,

“How can we make things better for you to be happier at home or at work?”

Once a response shows up a couple of times, the company looks into the viability of the suggestion. A few years ago employees complained about the need to do their laundry on the weekends. It turns out that an afternoon every other weekend was wasted in laundromats around the city.

Founder Charlie Kim looked into the possibility and decided to offer wash and fold as an employee benefit. According to the Next Jump website:

laundrybagEmployees can drop off their laundry bag in the office on Fridays every week. Their laundry is washed, dried and folded over the weekend and can be picked up the following Monday. This program ensures maximum “strategic disengagement” for the employees. Instead of spending hours doing laundry every weekend, employees can have more time to rest and relax, ready to be energized for next week.

Next Jump came up with the motto: 

“My company gets my laundry, I get my weekends back.”

green-goldfish-15-ways-to-drive-engagement-300x248Next Jump also has a number of other (green goldfish) programs that work to reinforce the desired culture. Like Google, they hit on all cylinders whether its the Basics like recruiting, onboarding, food / beverage, space, wellness, modern family, time-away, Belonging like transparency, team building, recognition, flexibility, retirement and Building like training, pay it forward and empowerment.

I had the privilege of hearing Matt Tenney speak at a couple recent events. Matt is a thought leader around the topics of servant leadership and corporate culture. Here is Matt talking about Next Jump as part of a keynote. In addition to the laundry, Matt touches on Code for a Cause, The Avenger Award and Office Bedrooms and the amount of applicants at Next Jump:

ServeToBeGreatMatt is also the author of the upcoming May 5th Wiley release, “Serve to Be Great.”

TAKEAWAY – Take a cue from Next Jump, routinely ask your employees how you can better serve their needs at home or at work. Because happy engaged employees create happy enthused customers.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Want to take a look inside Next Jump? Here’s a quick video by the folks at Wistia:

New Book on Workplace Culture Highlights 1,001 Best Practices to Engage and Retain Employees

Here’s the official release for WYGG. Many thanks to Sal Vilardo of PR Giraffe:

What’s Your Green Goldfish – Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown for good measure) – as mentioned in the release, WYGG is free for the next few days. Here is a Slideshare previewing the book. The special link for the free download is on Slide 42:

Culture trumps strategy and principles beat rules. A book review of WYGG

Here is a review of WYGG by Doug Rice of Marketing Mediator:

book review doug rice

I never thought that Stan Phelps could top the revolutionary ideas in “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?” But I was dead wrong. This is hands down one of the best books on employee relations I have ever read. The research Stan has done exhaustively and poignantly demonstrates that how organizations treat their employees is a key determinant in their success in the marketplace. The book is filled with hundreds of stories seamlessly woven from the 1,001 Stan collected about companies who invest in their employees.

What's Your Green Goldfish AmazonI highly recommend this book for HR managers and team leaders. That being said, I offer a word of caution. Stan’s message is not for the faint of heart. Don’t read this book unless you actually intend to implement its ideas. This isn’t a book for HR folks that are just trying to concoct a mission statement or develop policies. This is a book for HR folks who truly want to tap into the power of their employees to revolutionize their organizations. My absolute favorite quote in the book, “Culture trumps strategy and principles beat rules.” If you don’t believe this maxim, don’t bother reading the book. It will probably just irritate you.

But if you are brave enough, this book is the perfect rule book for HR professionals. I have always believed that your employees are your most important customers. If you treat your employees well enough, they will become advocates more so than they are hired hands. As Stan says, “Employees are the bedrock of your organization. You would be better served taking compensation out of the equation and thinking of them as volunteers.” Are those the kind of employees you want? Find out how to get them. Not from Stan, but rather from the countless successful companies whose stories he has compiled in this book. This is how do it. Read. Follow. And enjoy your success.

Interested in an overview of the book. Here’s a Slideshare on What’s Your Green Goldfish: Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce Culture:

Foreword for What’s Your Green Goldfish by @TedCoine

Almost four years ago I had the opportunity to connect with Ted Coiné on Twitter. We were instantly simpatico because @TedCoine and I shared a similar belief. We believed that customer and employee experience can be competitive differentiators. We share a common mission: Helping shift today’s organizations towards meaningful action.

green goldfish projectI launched the Green Goldfish Project as a guest post on Ted and Shawn Murphy’s Switch and Shift one year ago. I am honored that Ted agreed to write the foreword for What’s Your Green Goldfish.

Here it is:

FOREWORD

by Ted Coiné

For years now, I’ve been sharing a basic truth with my audiences and readers: In business, doing the right thing pays.

You can call this good karma or following the Golden Rule if you choose. For those of you who are more pragmatic, you can chalk it up to savvy business sense. Whether you’re focused on the first half of this proposition (doing the right thing) or the second (pays), my role is to drive this message home in a way my print and real-life audiences can taste, feel, and ultimately buy into. Because let’s face it: you can tell someone the truth until your throat is raw. Until they own it for themselves, you’re wasting your time, and theirs.

Fortunately, even the most intelligent of we humans respond well to two types of new information: that which is simple, and real-life examples.

So imagine my delight when my friend Stan Phelps began his Goldfish projects a few years ago! Every day, it seemed, he would post on his blog a new example of what he called marketing lagniappe, or the little things that make a world of difference. He set out to collect 1,001 examples, and asked his robust social media network for help.

The results of this initial (brilliantly crowd sourced) research are available in his first book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish. Chances are good you’ve already read it, and you’re back now for a deeper dive.

“Deeper?” Absolutely. Purple Goldfish is all about customer service. His premise is simple and, to anyone who’s owned or run a business, inescapable: spoil your customers rotten, surprise them with a little extra that they can’t get anywhere else, and they’re yours for life. Better, their friends will be, too, because there’s nothing we humans enjoy more than sharing stories – good or bad – with our friends. Give your customers an irresistible story to share about how wonderful your company is, and they’ll become your most effective sales force. The Purple Goldfish Project provides 1,001 such stories, about almost as many companies.

So that’s his Purple Goldfish book, and if you haven’t read it, read it next. But I claim his Green Goldfish book – this one – takes you one deeper. Here’s how:

With the right practices in place, with good training and tight-as-a-drum supervision, even the most draconian of managements can achieve winning customer service that wows customers. I hate to admit that, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I have to be honest. Fortunately, it’s beyond rare that a company can pull this off. It’s just too exhausting to maintain with any consistency. Customers can sense employee misery, even through forced smiles, and it turns them off.

What turns customers on is sincerity: employee love of their company: engagement, in other words. That is where the Green Goldfish book comes in – yes, the one you hold in your hands right now!

If you’re looking for ways to inspire your employees to love your company, and if you’re smart enough to realize that money can’t buy you love, then you need real-life, uber-successful examples from real-life, uber-profitable companies. Look no farther! In your hands, you’ve got examples from hundreds and hundreds of companies. Some are firms you already know. For instance:

  • Facebook gives employees a $4,500 bonus for having a baby – just when they need it most!
  • Patagonia makes the world – and employees’ lives – better through two weeks’ paid time off to work in the green nonprofit of their choice.
  • Intel has greeters and gifts awaiting new hires. What a way to start a new career!

Others are ones you’ve likely never heard of, but should know well, including:

  • Realflow engages employees through smoothie competitions. Taste and healthy ingredients are included in judging criteria.
  • Tarbar’s Thumbs Up Award is a roaming desktop statue employees can earn by doing something above and beyond the call of job performance.
  • AnswerLab’s employees can each schedule one-on-one time with their CEO to “walk and talk” – literally. He goes for a walk with each one!

If you notice, some of these Green Goldfish companies invest green – that is, money – in ways that show their employees how important they are to the company. The first three examples all fit into this category. A little bit of money, invested meaningfully, can indeed get your point across quite well.

But if you also notice, you don’t have to spend a dime in order to get this message through (and as a pathologically frugal former CEO myself, this really works for me!). How much do smoothie ingredients cost? How much does one roaming award cost?

… And my favorite of the list, the walk and talk with the CEO? Last time I checked, walking was free. Free, but priceless! As most readers of my blog, SwitchandShift.com, are well aware, I have a special place in my heart – and most posts – for the power of Management By Walking Around: and the more casual the walking (or eating), the more likely important, company-improving issues will bubble to the top where something can be done about them.

No, a Green Goldfish does not have to cost your company a single penny. It isn’t about the money. Green Goldfish – and the green of profits – they’re all about employee engagement, employee love. You can’t buy your employees’ love, no matter how much you spend. But you sure can invest in it, as the 200+ examples in this book attest.

I’d like to close this forward with a quote from an employee at another of the Green Goldfish companies, the SAS Institute:

You’re given the freedom, the flexibility, and the resources to do your job. Because if you’re treated well, you treat the company well.”

Doing the right thing pays. What’s Your Green Goldfish is your how-to manual to make this essential business truth come to life at your company. Buy it. Read it. Share it. Most importantly, do it.

You’ll thank me for this advice. You’ll thank Stan Phelps for this book.

– Ted Coiné

Former CEO, Speaker and Business Heretic

Author of Five Star Customer Service and Spoil ’Em Rotten!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s an overview of the book on Slideshare:

Employee engagement and culture can be competitive differentiators. #WYGG interview with Inc. Small Giants

This interview by Raul Candeloro originally appeared on Inc. Small Giants Community:

What’s Your Green Goldfish? Exclusive Interview

Inc. Small Giants CommunityThe average distance between the human brain and heart is 9 inches (23 cm). And according to What’s Your Green Goldfish (available March 29) author Stan Phelps, bridging that gap is the key toward creating a great culture that delivers high employee engagement, and in return, a successful business. In this week’s interview, Inc. Small Giants Community Executive Director Raul Candeloro sat down with Phelps to learn more about why,

…the biggest mistake small business owners make is not recognizing the impact of increased engagement and the importance of culture as a competitive differentiator.”

Inc. Small Giants Community: Let’s begin by talking about yourself, so our readers can get to know you better. Could you briefly describe your life journey until you wrote What’s Your Green Goldfish?

Stan Phelps: My background spans a 20 year career working with global brands including adidas, IMG and the PGA of America. I honed my skills working as Chief Solutions Officer for seven years at the award-winning agency Synergy Events. At Synergy I took a wide look at marketing with the premise of finding unique ways to engage customers. I currently am the Founder/CMO (Chief Measurement Officer) of 9 INCH marketing, an organization that inspires leaders to think differently about marketing. Nothing personal about the 9 inches (unfortunately), it represents the average distance between the brain and the heart. Given the goal of winning the hearts of your customers and employees, it represents the longest and hardest distance to navigate in marketing.

ISGC: Now about the book. With already so many business and management books out there about, what new information does What’s Your Green Goldfish offer?

Phelps: What’s Your Green Goldfish? is based on the simple premise that employees are the key drivers of customer experience and that “Happy Employees Create Happy Customers.” It is the second book in a trilogy. The first book was an Amazon Best Seller entitled, What’s Your Purple Goldfish? Purple focused on customers, whereby Green focuses on employees. Both books are based on a new approach called marketing g.l.u.e. (marketing by giving little unexpectedextras). The book is based on the findings of the Green Goldfish Project, an effort which crowd sourced 1,001 examples of signature added value. Key themes emerged from the Project. The book is filled with nearly 200 examples spanning the 15 different ways to drive employee engagement and reinforce culture.

ISGC: Could you give us an example out of What’s Your Green Goldfish that reflects your main ideas or concepts?

Phelps: Canadian home healthcare provider Nurse Next Door first showed up in What’s Your Purple Goldfish? They had an interesting way of handling mistakes with customers. And let’s face it, we all make mistakes. It’s how you handle them that makes all the difference. In addition to sending a handwritten note, Nurse Next Door would also send a freshly baked apple pie to apologize. Literally, a humble pie.

flowerbucks nurse next door green goldfishNow they’ve appeared in the Green Goldfish Project with two unique programs. The first is the flowerbucks program. Nurse Next Door is a core value driven organization and when team members live one of the four core values, they earn flowerbucks – an in-house currency. Each quarter the company holds  ’Flowerbuck Auctions’ to celebrate core value award winners and auction off prizes ranging from gift cards to iPads and even trips. The second program involves focusing employees’ personal dreams. Nurse Next Door sits down with employees to uncover their goals. They’ve been able to support all sorts of dreams ranging from learning to sail, to learning a new language, buying a home or even travelling. Both of these programs converged recently to make one really cool story. At a recent flowerbuck auction one of their employees ended up winning the trip because her co-workers gave her their flowerbucks. They did this because they learned her dream was to travel to South America and volunteer to teach English. All she needed was the airline ticket, so her coworkers donated their own flowerbucks. (YouTube Video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWKthxnNCWk ) These two examples touch on four key concepts in the book: Recognition, Empowerment, Team Building and Paying it Forward.

ISGC:In a short sentence, what kind of person should be attracted to your book? What kind of advice should they be looking for? Or what kind of problem should they be looking to solve?

Phelps: The book is geared for C Level Executives, Business Owners and Entrepreneurs that are looking signature ways to attract and retain top talent. Why? Because engaged organizations grew profits as much as three times faster than their competitors. (Source: Corporate Leadership Council).

ISGC: What’s the first thing you would like a reader to do after finishing What’s Your Green Goldfish?

Phelps: Take action. Look at each of the 15 different ways to drive engagement and reinforce culture. Then ideate, test, implement and measure. Rinse, repeat.

ISGC: What other books would you recommend for someone that wants more information about this?

Phelps: There are numerous books I would highly recommend:

A couple of classics first:

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard and The Seven Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler.

A couple of newer books:

Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar and Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson

ISGC: In your work as a consultant, what is the biggest mistake you see small business owners making in the areas covered by What’s Your Green Goldfish?

Phelps: The biggest mistake is not recognizing the impact of increased engagement and the importance of culture as a competitive differentiator.

ISGC: What suggestions would you give them to improve? Where should they start?

Phelps: The process is a 9 inch journey. Nine inches is the average distance between the brain and the heart. Green Goldfish are little things that can be implemented one by one. Collectively they can make a big difference. The journey is broken into three phases called the 3 B’s: Basics, Belonging and Building. I’d recommend starting with the first three inches, the basics. Focus on areas such as Recruiting, Onboarding, Space, F&B, Wellness and Time Away.

ISGC: What about managers and team leaders? In general, what do you think they should STOP doing if they wanted to improve their results?

Phelps: Studies have shown that 69% of US employees are either “not engaged,” or are ”actively disengaged.” (Source: Gallup) Managers and Team Leaders should stop putting little or no emphasis on management training. People do not quit jobs, they quit bosses. It is the #1 reason for disengagement and turnover.

ISGC: Anything they should start doing more?

Phelps: Recognition matters to employees. You can’t do it too early or too often enough. Forty-three percent of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement. (Source: Towers Watson) Some studies have shown that employees value recognition more importantly than financial incentives or bonuses.

 ISGC: Any additional comments or thoughts for our readers?

Phelps: Culture is not a campaign, it’s a commitment. It’s something that evolves daily. All companies should be striving for three things: 1. A warm workplace where people genuinely like and care for each other. 2. Employees who are working in positions where they are empowered to make meaningful contributions. 3. An open environment where employees feel recognized and trust that management acts in their best interests.

ISGC: Want to get in touch with Stan? Find him on the web at any of these locations:

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – What is a Small Giant? It all started with Bo Burlingham’s book, Small Giants: Companies That Choose to be Great Instead of BigThe Inc. Small Giants Community is made up of small business leaders all over the world who define success by more than just their financial bottom lines, but also by their contributions to their communities, a dedication to great customer service and the creation and preservation of workplaces cultures of excellence. Here’s a video by BNET highlighting Small Giant Anchor Steam Brewing. There is an awesome quote by Bo about the importance of employees:

The high quality of the relationship between the company and the employee is a key ingredient of every Small Giant. That’s because everything that makes a company great: the brand, the product/service and the relationship with customers depends on the people that work there.”