Paul Spiegelman, the founder and CEO of Beryl, a call-center company in Bedford, Texas, has built a unique, people-centric culture, which he chronicled in the book, Why is Everyone Smiling? His next book, co-authored with Beryl employees, is titled Smile Guide: Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit. Here, Spiegelman shares tips on how to keep your workers happy.
"Listen to what your employees say," says Spiegelman. "And don’t just listen – implement the ideas that they have, and give them credit for those ideas. As entrepreneurs, we might in our gut know the right answers to certain questions, but it is often better to let workers tell you what the answers are and give them credit."
"You must have the basics of compensation and benefits in place or else all your efforts to build a great culture will be looked at as disingenuous," Spiegelman says.
Do you point out and celebrate your employees' good work? This is an easy way to make people smile. "Making your employees happy doesn’t have to cost a lot of money," Spiegelman says. "People want to feel valued."
Employees value a sense of progress. "Virtually everybody in an organization wants to feel like they have room to grow, whether your organization or team has two people or 2,000," Spiegelman says.
"Titles are cheap," Spiegelman says. "Our receptionist is Director of First Impressions. We have somebody devoted, full-time, to our culture. Her title is Queen of Fun and Laughter. That’s her actual title."
Spiegelman is an advocate of wacky team-building exercises. He once staged a murder mystery on the call-center floor and gave teams eight weeks to solve it. "Do little things that make people step out and enjoy what they do," he says. "I don’t care what the setting is."
As a leader, you have to play by the same rules as everyone else, even when it is inconvenient. "It’s important for us as leaders to bring ourselves to the same levels as everyone else, because we are at the same level. We are no different," Spiegelman says.
"Every employee on the anniversary date of their employment at Beryl gets a note from me sent to their home. I get a spreadsheet from HR that tells me how many years they’ve been with us, and also tells me something personal about them. It might say that their son won the Little League championship. So I’ll say ‘Hey, congratulations on five years with Beryl, and I heard about Joey, isn’t it wonderful that he won the championship this summer?’ Don’t forget the personal touch."
"You have to create traditions, says Spiegelman. "For example, Beryl has an annual talent show with judges and this past August was the sixth year it was held. People look forward to it in a big way, to participate in these traditions."
Ultimately, your culture is a reflection of your personal values, Spiegelman believes. "Make people understand your compassion and your empathy for their lives as a whole."