Renowned for it’s consistently happy workplace culture, online retailer RedBalloon, was listed in the top 50 BRW Great Places to Work for five consecutive years (2009-2013).
Proof that happy employees are productive employees, RedBalloon has also been appeared on the BRW Fast 100 and the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 lists for the past six years.
CEO of RedBalloon, Kristie Buchanan (pictured) says “There is a happy employee ripple effect. RedBalloon has found it and the Australian business community needs to recognise it. We measure employee happiness with an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). We’re proud of our score of 85.”
So what does it take to create one of Australia’s best places to work? Kristie unveils RedBalloon’s six-step formula for employee happiness.
1. Induct new employees before day one. Engaged employees are more productive, so why wait until day one to make them feel welcome? This is also an opportunity to ensure new employees understand your brand and your values. “Being in the business of good times, we’ve designed an induction program that conveys fun and ensures new employees feel part of our team from the get go. Before they start, employees are given a full online induction program, a RedBalloon ‘buddy’ from a different part of the business, and invitations to fun events. We treat them to lunch in their first week and on day one gift them with an iPad for work and play, recommending apps that will help with their productivity at the same time.”
2. Empower employees with open, transparent communication. Empower all people and team leaders with the same level of information. This ensures an open and transparent culture at all levels of the organisation. “Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves – so the least you can do is let your people into the vision, strategy and performance of the business. If the team really know what is going on, they can better contribute. At RedBalloon, our communication flows through team huddles, weekly one on ones, and our internal social media network, Yammer, which provides an open channel for all employees to share and be heard.”
3. Provide the right environment and tools. Open-plan offices with break-out spaces have been proven to boost communication, teamwork, integration and employee morale. RedBalloon’s ‘non-hierarchical’ layout takes the concept further. “I, with our leaders, sit alongside everyone else at a desk identical to everyone else’s to demonstrate we’re accessible, part of the team, and we value everyone’s contribution,” Kristie says. Add tools that encourage everyone to contribute solutions to business challenges, and you have a winning formula. “Our library of inspirational books and our Idea Lab online platform, where employees submit ideas, have been great tools. Since August last year, 223 ideas have been submitted, 99 of which have been approved.”
4. Take an innovative approach to employee performance. Ensure employee performance is measured, challenged and stretched. “In addition to quarterly performance reflections, we ensure employees contribute to their own KPIs with quarterly personal promises. “Personal promises are an individual’s contribution to the delivery of our company’s strategic plan and are a key measure of our overall growth and performance. Over 90 per cent of personal promises are achieved at RedBalloon,” Kristie says. “In addition, regular Lunch’n’Learns with notable speakers are designed to inspire, and we utilise great tools that provide insight into peoples’ strengths through their thinking preferences.”
5. Recognise and reward. Recognition programs should aim to drive performance – and a key to making them work is spontaneity. “Everyone at RedBalloon can accumulate – and redeem – points through company milestones and their own performance. We award Oscars to team members who most live the RedBalloon values. Our dream catcher wall, where new employees list their most wanted experiences, enables us choose rewards that are personalised and highly valued,” says Kristie.
6. Create wellness together. Recognise that wellness contributes to happiness, and ensure your employee programs creates a balance between the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of work. “Our Redballooner wellness program includes yoga, personal training and flu shots. We also create opportunities for employees to volunteer in the community.”
“Employee recognition and happiness are essential if businesses want to boost productivity, retention and, importantly, commercial results,” says Kristie.
“That RedBalloon is recognised as the brand that delivers on good times is testament to the investment we’ve made internally. In the 2013 financial year alone, we achieved transactional growth of 40 per cent and received around 2000 job applications. Those numbers speak for themselves.”
RedBalloon has sold more than 2 million experiences since it was established in 2001. Today it offers more than 3000 unique experiences from more than 1000 providers across Australia and New Zealand. RedBalloon also distributes gift cards through selected major retailers nationally, including Coles, Woolworths, Big W, Australia Post, Target, Kmart and Officeworks.
For more information about RedBalloon visit redballoon.com.au.