This article was originally published on forbes.com
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek
When it comes to employee satisfaction, culture is key. At the company I founded, we’ve learned a thing or two about cultivating a strong one. We’ve been fortunate to be named one of Ad Age’s “Best Places to Work” and one of Entrepreneur 360’s “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America,” and we’ve received numerous other culture-related awards.
What makes our culture award-worthy is that our employees love working here, which we know because we track their satisfaction with metrics. We do the same for our clients to ensure that same level of satisfaction is passed on to them.
The Link Between Employee And Client Satisfaction
In the affiliate marketing realm, satisfaction rates are affected by the fact that many in-house affiliate managers are seriously overworked (often to the point of ineffectiveness), overloaded with too many clients, and not given enough support by their firms via personal or professional development to properly manage their accounts. What we’ve found is that if employees are happy and engaged in their work, this often translates to satisfied clients.
We discovered this link by measuring employee and client happiness and observing the overlap. When we saw another company’s clients left in a lurch after many people on its affiliate program manager’s team left, we realized just how important the relationship between these two metrics really was. When several people leave close to the same time, that usually suggests they weren’t happy.
To avoid these situations, we decided to start measuring the alignment between satisfied employees and satisfied clients. According to our analysis, employee happiness levels dip toward the end of the year as team members are stretched thin, but they bounce back after engaging events, like our company’s in-person annual summit.
Measuring Employee Satisfaction
Data and metrics are important when gauging satisfaction, and it’s easier than you may think to implement these techniques.
1. Utilize TINYpulse.
TINYpulse is an online platform that provides anonymous real-time feedback regarding employee morale and satisfaction. It uncovers insights, as well as opportunities to improve, removing the guesswork for managers.
We have been using TINYpulse for more than two years and have seen an average happiness score of 8.2 over the past 12 months (compared to an industry benchmark of 7.5). And because 75% of our employees are in client-facing positions, their happiness translates to client satisfaction as well.
2. Survey clients consistently, and correct course.
It’s not enough to monitor employee satisfaction; it’s also important to measure client satisfaction and compare the two metrics to ensure they’re aligned. If not, we act on that data during our “100-day process,” where we outline what clients can expect from our relationship and from their program when we start working with them.
Have teams report on their client satisfaction regularly to get a sense of how clients are feeling. This is where our client Net Promoter Score (NPS) comes from. We compare those results with employee satisfaction metrics from TINYpulse.
Since we started doing this, we’ve seen long-time clients refer other major clients to us. Moreover, we’ve been able to retain satisfied employees who help maintain our award-winning culture.
3. Share feedback with everyone.
Every two weeks, our team has a companywide call. During these calls, we allot time to discuss highlights, feedback and results from TINYpulse. We then make note of any changes we plan on implementing and the reasons behind those changes.
We also use the time to recognize employees who are exemplifying our core values, and we’ve integrated that recognition into our Slack channels to help build relationships and trust between employees.
The key is transparency. We maintain open communication at all times and allow employees access to survey results to show that we truly care about their happiness.
4. Alleviate stress through work-life integration.
It’s important for employees to be able to unplug and relieve stress. Unfortunately, this is often difficult for them to do. In fact, 22% of employees eventually leave their jobs because of stress associated with trying to balance their work and their personal life.
We give our team members the autonomy and freedom to accomplish personal goals and deal with their own life issues, such as family illnesses or deaths — or even taking time during the workday to train for a competition or take a class — while achieving great outcomes for our clients. We try to help them integrate the different personal and professional challenges they face every week to remain as much in the present moment as possible.
We use all of this information to keep a finger on the pulse of our employees’ happiness and our clients’ happiness. If it starts to dip, we’re able to use these insights to dig into why. The goal is to have a work culture and environment that’s happy and productive — not one or the other.
The same goes for our clients. We offer the most value to them when we’re producing great outcomes for them and establishing a partnership that’s strong, respectful, and enjoyable.