The Great Resignation.
Despite strong job growth, companies continue to grapple with a workforce that has changed greatly. Post-pandemic, the employee mindset has evolved.
According to marketing and technology entrepreneur Krishen Iyer, businesses must do more to lean into employee happiness. Doing so will lead not only to more productive and satisfied workforces but increased revenue and business goals met.
“There is nothing more essential to success than having employees who are engaged and committed to your mission,” Iyer said. “Employee happiness leads to more longevity, higher retention rates, and more satisfied customers.”
Iyer is the founder and CEO of MAIS Consulting, an insurance technology company offering consulting, distribution, and marketing services to the industry. He has founded several companies and led them to remarkable results.
For marketing teams in particular, happiness can greatly influence success. Happiness can permeate a marketing organization, shaping its work, messages, and customer engagement.
“Marketing is about making emotional connections with customers,” Iyer said. “If those making the connections are themselves happy, the engagements will be more authentic and genuine.”
Tips for Using Happiness to Boost Marketing Results
If you’re ready to connect emotional happiness to your marketing outcomes, follow the following tips.
1. Ask Employees to Rank their Happiness
You need a baseline of collective happiness in the workforce. You want to evaluate where the marketing team is before taking any major corrective steps.
By asking each employee to rate their happiness and share reasons why, you’ll have quantitative and qualitative information to build upon.
2. According to Krishen Iyer, Listen and Validate
No matter what you hear or how strongly you believe the reasons, you want to acknowledge and validate what your employees have shared. Expressing discontent, even anonymously, can be a risky proposition for any employee.
It’s important for example, not to try to “solve” the feelings by giving advice on how to change them or minimize what they’re expressing. Instead, use language that affirms that the feelings are real, such as, “I hear you and understand why you are feeling this way” or “I can imagine that’s very frustrating.”
“Employees want to feel heard,” Iyer said. “And if they believe that you are truly listening, invested in what they have to say, you’ll build a deeper rapport. The key is make sure that you truly listen and respond to what they are saying.”
Building and innovating – at the product level and the people he leads – has been the hallmark of Iyer’s career. A graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in public administration, founded NMP Insurance Services in 2009. He led the company, listed on the Inc 5000, which provided insurance sales, distribution and marketing, until 2015. He later founded ILK and co-founded Managed Benefit Services, the latter a marketing and insurance distribution firm.
With MAIS Consulting, Krishen Iyer is once again innovating and inspiring employees and clients alike. In late 2022, MAIS Consulting secured a first round of funding, which will help MAIS help thousands of people in 23 states gain access to low-cost insurance via the Affordable Care Act.
3. Open the Conversation
Employees want to trust that they can be truthful in their conversations. But corporate cultures, positions, confidence and experience can shape how candid your staffs feel in speaking with you about happiness. How can you ensure that your staff are willing to express how they really feel?
It’s about your posture and positioning in setting up the conversation. Contextualize the reason your asking and the impact you believe that establishing a baseline will have on the impacts of your marketing initiatives.
The purpose of the exercise is to connect feelings to performance. Those feelings collectively are going to represent a range of sentiments among your employees. Let them know that those feelings are valid and that the purpose is to explore how to shift the feelings to actuate better results.
In addition, happier employees are more likely to work closer together, be more productive and be more efficient.
Let your direct reports and other staff know that you want them to be happy and that you’re committed to change. Acknowledge that words are easy and actions are harder, but that you’re going to commit to new ideas, new approaches, and new ways of working.
4. Ask What Motivates and What’s Needed
Employee motivations and needs are very closely related and essential to team success. Motivations will likely differ greatly among your team members. However, there will also be commonalities. Collecting these motivations helps you manage the team more effectively and inspire, motivate, and drive successful work outcomes.
Next, it’s important to know what the need feels it needs to be successful. Knowing what you can do to make them happier is powerful information. Collectively, the insights that your team shares will help inform your strategy about what steps to take and when.
5. Start with Low-Hanging Fruit
As you collect insights and opinions on how to boost happiness, you’ll need to assess what you want to do to change the situation. In that assessment, you’ll want to look for things that can be done easily with little cost, time or difficulty. Often, these smaller gestures can be implemented quickly.
Consider grievances that may seem minor to you but are an issue for your team, advised Krishen Iyer. Try to nip minor grievances in the bud, making sure they do not grow.
Fast, decisive action can show your team that you not only value their feedback, but that you will take action immediately to respond.
6. Check In Regularly, Notes Krishen Iyer
You and your marketing leaders need to check in consistently with staff about the happiness rating. Doing so in private meetings and asking regularly may provide more candid insights. These check-ins are an opportunity to see if the progress you’ve made is having an impact on happiness, both for individual employees and the team collectively.
7. Focus on the High Scores, Too, Says Krishen Iyer
While your instinct might be to focus on what’s said related to the lowest scores shared, that’s only half the battle. You also want to be clear about what those who rate their happiness as an 8 or 9 are saying.
A high but not perfect score indicates that there is still room for improvement. For those that answer in the high range, and explain why, there’s an important next question to ask. “What will it take to get that number to 10?”
“Team happiness often begins with your highest performers, and typically, those who perform best are the happiest,” Krishen Iyer noted. “Keeping those employees engaged and happy is essential for better outcomes and stronger teams.”
Even for those that say 10 can offer ways to address the happiness level. A 10, indeed, may be far from perfect.
8. Know Thyself and Commit to Change
Leaders need to use the opportunity to assess their own leadership, management style and influence on their employees. The commitment to change comes in two dimensions.
For one, leaders must be ready to change the way the organization operates. Infusing your marketing team with more happiness will reap significant benefits. So, too, will a readiness to reflect and revise they way they present and lead.
Krishen Iyer knows that changes in happiness lead to effective marketing, which leads to better business results.
“A commitment to happiness may be a significant change for some leaders,” Iyer said. “Doing so will lead not only to happier teams, but a happier you, too.”