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Vistage Florida's Speaker Spotlight

Actionable insights for the C-Suite

Sheila Neisler: Time to hit a business “Pause” for a Cause

Cause Marketing may be a path to reboot your company’s culture

“The very practice of management no longer works.   An organization’s growth has been and always will be its workforce.  Organizations have nowhere to hide. They have to adapt to the needs of the modern workforce, or they will find themselves struggling to attract and keep great employees and therefore customers.” (Gallup, Inc. 2017 “State of American Workforce”)

Your team has mentally checked out

You see the foreboding signs every day.  Employees late to work, deadlines missed, quality problems, memos calling employee actions out (don'ts), awkward silence when you walk into a room, "polite excuses" from higher-ups about performance problems, and a sense of ennui (meh) is everywhere.  It feels like, regardless of the weather, your company is experiencing the blue-, pink- and white-collar flu.

  unhappy workforce, tired employees

If misery loves "company," you're there. Gallup regularly surveys 195,000 employees across America about their views of employee engagement, corporate culture, and firm leadership and shares the results in "The State of the American Workforce."  The results are ugly – on the shop floor, on the sales team and in the back office: 66% of your workforce is not engaged and the yeoman efforts of the remaining 34% are being undercut by the 16% who are so disengaged that they work against company goals and may sabotage overall performance.   Oh, and those "problem children" – the people you hope will leave – don’t worry – they, too, have company:  some 50% (including your best hires) are actively looking for new jobs.   

This “phone it in” mentality has a cost in more than just morale.  Gallup indicates that there’s a hit financially, too – costing companies $485 to $605 BILLION (with a B!!) annually in lost productivity.

America always loves a comeback story – and there’s one possible for American business.  When comparing results of an engaged workforce versus one on life-support, Gallup found:

  • 41% reduction in absenteeism
  • 24% - 59% reduction in turnover
  • 70% fewer employee safety incidents
  • 40% fewer quality defects.
  • 17% increase in productivity
  • 20% increase in sales
  • 21% increase in profitability


This is not to say that you now retain some high-priced consultants to measure and prod your team but create a thoughtful approach to making your team actually a team.  Jim Clifton, Chairman, and CEO of Gallup offers some recommendations, including:

  1. Bring your leadership together and have them commit to change your business processes from command-and-control to one of high development and on-going coaching.  Change the culture of “paycheck” to a culture of “purpose.”
  2. Dive in with new initiatives and expect to make mistakes.  Don’t just “stick your toe in.”  What you’re doing currently isn’t working anyway.
  3. Develop a more transparent leadership culture: one that places a higher value in collaborative goal setting, cooperation and communication with input from every level.   

 

One way to build loyalty and engagement is an initiative that was borne in the “softer side” marketing and HR departments – Cause Marketing: a partnership between a nonprofit and a for-profit for mutual profit.  Lest you think this is a company’s “kumbaya” moment, the data bears out the fact that people (customers and employees) can and do vote with their heart – and their wallets.    

  • Cause marketing can increase sale by 19%
  • 66% of companies engage in Cause Marketing
  • Cause Marketing is a company differentiator. 90% of US shoppers are likely to switch their purchase to a cause-branded product, and 42% will pay more for more.   
  • 88% of customers want to hear about your Causes, but 70% are confused about your Cause Marketing communications  
  • 69% of millennials want business to addressing social causes – in fact, 55% say a company’s causes are deciding factors in where they work.    
  • 43% of millennials prefer to contribute to a business program rather than directly to a charity.

millenial, workforce, recruiting

C-suite leaders now acknowledge Cause Marketing is a major differentiator in recruiting talent.    

Consider a more deliberate approach to “doing well by doing good” (you’re already supporting charities, anyway). Take it up a notch with team meetings to determine how a company should spend their time, talent and money.  Here’s why:   

  1. It becomes a great opportunity to break down rank and file barriers. Working for a common goal and a higher purpose builds bridges across traditional hierarchy and may allow for expanded conversations and a higher level of trust with business challenges.
  2. Charity relationships can provide leadership development for up and coming talent.  Many businesses may have limited (or longer runway) career paths.  Providing your “best and brightest” with outside opportunities to develop initiatives and people skills builds confidence, pride and ownership in your company and greater brand loyalty.
  3. Sweat equity humanizes even the "ivoriest" of towers.  Participating as a group and taking direction from the lower level – and probably younger - associates can create a culture of teamwork beyond the cultural and generational divides.      People naturally mimic the folks at the top – your setting a proactive and positive tone and tempo of a charity challenge can provide a significant "halo" effect for other business initiatives. 

Cause Marketing can be a unifying change to your company’s business model to increase employee engagement.  It is a proven game changer with customers.  It’s now evolving into a “culture changer” to ensure your company’s long-term sustainability.   

 

Who is Sheila Neisler?

After serving as a corporate financial analyst, Sheila started a corporate gift basket company that grew to produce 10,000 gifts annually. Ultimately, a national trade association and a trade show magazine both approached her to make presentations to their audiences about how she built her thriving business. She went on to become the owner of Catalyst marketing company, which she has managed for the past 10 years. Sheila has helped B2B and B2C companies increase sales through development and implementation of customized marketing approaches that are grounded in essential 360° principles. Sheila creates plans for companies that are applicable across marketing and sales channels she discusses, including, Market Makers, Earned Media, Cause Marketing, Customer Engagement, and direct sales (which she calls "feet on the street” sales).

 

You can always check out what Sheila and her company are up to at her website.

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