The Case for Employee Success

The Case for Employee Success

Why the next wave of great companies will be defined by how they equip and unleash the potential and talent of their people.

If you’re a leader of people, I’ll say to you clearly: our people deserve better.

66% of employees are apathetic or actively disengaged at work.

It’s not the pandemic’s fault. Over the last 20 years, the number of apathetic and actively disengaged employees has been as high as 74% (2000, 2005) and has only been lower than 66% twice (65% in 2019, 64% in 2020). 

67% of workers believe that repetitive tasks are robbing them of their opportunity to do their best work. 38% of workers think they could save 5-10 hours of work a week with basic automation. We’re hiring talented people, and then wasting their talents on repetitive tasks or worse, tasks that a machine can do.

Nothing we do. Nothing we build. Nothing we implement. Nothing we launch. Nothing we sell. Nothing we try is possible without our people. 

So … why do we keep letting our people down? And how do we finally stop?

From “Customer Obsessed” to
“Employee Obsessed”

People are the most powerful, the most dynamic, the most adaptable, and in truth, the most sustainable drivers of success.

You’ve heard the term “customer first”? It’s time for “people first”.

You’ve heard of “voice of the customer”? It’s time for “voice of the employee”.

You’ve heard the term “customer success”? It’s time for “employee success”.

Companies have spent the past 20 years finding new ways to attract, to acquire, to maintain, and to expand relationships with prospects and customers. There’s been an explosion of marketing, growth, product, and customer experience frameworks, tools, and entire disciplines and our people have borne the brunt of this hasty, rushed, unsustainable progress.

They’re drowning in new metrics, new technologies, new frameworks, new demands, and ultimately, more work. It’s emblematic of the way systems work (and break) more broadly. We build new trains without updating the tracks, we build new buildings without updating the power grid, we upgrade our facades without upgrading our water system. 

Our people are tired, are frustrated, are undervalued, and they are demanding better.

The companies who thrive over the next 10 years sustain innovations that win and retain customers by creating an environment where the source of those innovations, your people, are supported, equipped and unleashed to realize their full talent and potential.

To make your customers successful, you must first create an environment that makes your employees successful.

From “The Great Reckoning” to
“The Next Great Frontier”

Headlines, unfilled job postings, and resignation rates make clear that we’re in the midst of a revolution. 

Where people once sat quietly and toiled apathetically, people now demand to be put in positions that maximize their talents instead of marginalize their contributions. 

Where people once felt trapped unless they had another job lined up, they now feel compelled to leave regardless. 

The Great Reckoning is upon us and organizations that understand and respond thoughtfully and holistically, will thrive. Those that don’t, won’t.

Making employees maximally successful, Employee Success, is no longer a strategy, it’s an imperative. And it’s not a new idea! Employee Success is not a new idea. HR, Talent and People leaders have been advocating for these principles tirelessly and uphill (climbs, battles) for years (decades). 

(Also, thank you.)

People Leaders deserve a grander stage, a louder microphone, and a bigger audience for their voice and their ideas. Because Employee Success will be the primary driver of organizational success going forward.

Before jumping to “how” Employee Success can be brought to your organization, it’s important to get aligned on “why” – and we’re clearly not aligned on the importance of the moment. Many leaders and experts have already misread the opportunity by downplaying the profound change in labor dynamics as a “resignation” or “reshuffle” as opposed to the more material disruption it actually is. Misreading the market and the challenge means missing the opportunity.

Which is why I’ve chosen to start by making a more robust case for Employee Success. One that provides context, evidence, examples, while also pulling from a host of resources that have already been published but to date, have not received the stage or the audience they deserve. 

The how follows the why.

Understanding the opportunity holistically will position you, as Thoreau would have wished, to strike at the root of the problem instead of the branch.

With what follows, we’ll lay out the case for employee success by sharing more information on:

  • The Reckoning – An overview of current employment market conditions.
  • The Case Study – An example of Employee Success mindset transforming a company’s performance.
  • The Precedents – Two historical analogues of macro-business trends and why Employee Success is next.
  • The Catalog – An (ever expanding) library of expert material on Employee Success
  • The Moment of Truth – How to begin the shift from understanding the opportunity, to operating against it.

The Reckoning

The past few years have seen record numbers of employees leaving jobs, sometimes without locking in something new. Additionally, companies are having to completely transform both how they operate and how they compensate their people to stem the tide.

A simple look at Gallup Employee Engagement data over the past 20 years coupled with emerging trends around employee dissatisfaction with their work because people are (a) doing work that can and should be automated and (b) doing work that doesn’t reflect their best abilities to contribute tells us that this reckoning was way overdue.

The Case Study

When the pandemic hit globally in March 2020, Boldr was a small BPO and PEO with one office in Manila, Philippines. We decided to prioritize (1a) team member health and safety and (1b) client health and success, even as 35% of our revenue disappeared almost overnight.

Operating with integrity and focusing on making our employees successful, helped transform our operating environment and our position in the eyes of the market. Which is why today, two years later, Boldr has 5x’d in team size, revenue, and geographic footprint, while also 8x’ing enterprise value. Today Boldr has become the largest B-Corp certified BPO and PEO in the world. 

The Precedents

The two major commercial trends of the past 20 years have been (1) digital influence on marketing and advertising and (2) the rise of customer experience as the primary way to differentiate and win in the market. Both started out as innovations, often fighting an uphill battle against historical ways of doing business.

Companies that adopted both early and succeeded at both sustainably, thrived. Ultimately, both ended up breeding copycats and as a result, both shifted from ways to differentiate to requirements, setting a new baseline of competencies and expectations upon which businesses would have to build further. Employee Success is the next trend and frontier.

The Catalog

There’s an increasing volume of data highlighting the power of employees feeling more supported, more equipped, and more valued. On the upside, it’s undeniable that feeling valued leads to massive increases in productivity.

Separately and inversely, feeling undervalued leaves us at the doorstep of The Great Reckoning. The pandemic has taken what makes people feel valued to entirely new heights, however, as the backdrop and context for personal happiness has risen in prominence. It’s why Employee Success needs our greatest time and attention.

The Moment of Truth

The benefit to being on the early side of Employee Success as a business imperative is the ability to write the playbook. The best playbooks always start with a commitment to hearing, understanding and paying attention to the challenge and the opportunities it presents.

Next, the way forward is by exploring other disciplines that addressed similar types of concerns with other constituents (clients are obvious, but also, exploring how companies engaged with community members, suppliers, partners and investors can surface incredible ideas and opportunities)