30 min read

NEW Podcast Episode: Jeremy Edmonds at Snooze- The Importance of Culture

Sep 16, 2022 10:38:17 AM

 

 
Intro:

You're listening to The goHappy Frontline Experience, the podcast giving employers the insight they need on best practices to engage and communicate with their frontline workers. These workers are the go-getters, serving Americans around the clock. They are your servers, your drivers, your cooks, your cashiers and so many others. They are the heart and soul of every organization. With goHappy, they now have a voice.
In each episode, we will speak with industry leaders and experts on the best ways to capture that voice, learn from it and implement actionable plans to increase employee engagement. Thank you for joining us. And here are your hosts, Shawn Boyer and Dane Schwartz.

Dane:
All right, everyone. Well, thank you so much for joining us again and listening in today. We want to welcome you to The goHappy Experience, our podcast here at goHappy. We have another awesome episode in store today, and just super excited to have you join us. So some quick introductions of who we have on the podcast today. My name's Dane Schwartz. I lead marketing here at goHappy and I am joined by our founder and CEO, Mr. Shawn Boyer. Shawn, how are you?

Shawn:
I am doing awesome and super excited to be here with you today and our amazing guest.

Dane:
That's right. Yeah. So we have an amazing guest, like Shawn was saying. So grateful that he was able to take time out of his schedule to join us and just super excited for him to share his knowledge and passion around the topic that we're going to discuss today. So please join me in welcoming Jeremy Edmonds, who is the Director of people and culture at Snooze. So welcome Jeremy.

Jeremy:
Thank you, Dane. I was expecting some applause in the background there!

Dane:
There we go. All right. Cool. So Jeremy again, so happy to have you here. So tell us a little bit about Snooze. What do you guys do at Snooze and what is your role?

Jeremy:
Yeah, so Snooze is a breakfast experience that was founded in 2006, by Jon and Adams Schlegel. They believed the only thing better than a full plate was a full and clear conscience. So they set out to create an unrivaled breakfast experience where food and service were at the core of what we did and pancakes could be used for a force of good. Their vision was to create this breakfast experience where everybody could gather, where people from all walks of life could come, share their love of the breakfast experience, but also make an impact on the community surrounding it. And those values still hold true today. You could say that Snooze is not just about making breakfast, but it's really about giving back to our community, giving back to our planet. We always say that there's four things primary at Snooze. People, planet, pancakes, and then profit, obviously. But through some of our programs, we have a 1% community give back program and really great efforts around sustainability so that we can always give back to both our planets and our communities as much as we can do.

Shawn:
I love it. I love the pancakes for good. That's a nice little takeaway there. I love that.

Dane:
Jeremy, tell us a little bit more about what do you do? What do you do at Snooze? What's, not only your passion, but your actual job? What are you responsible for?

Jeremy:
I like to tell people that I'm the champion of breakfast. My business card says Director of People and Culture, but my role is to lead all things Snoozer experience, from benefits to perks, to onboarding and off boarding and everything in between. It's my job to ensure that every Snoozer who steps through our door has an incredible experience. They feel welcome. They have a place where they belong and that they understand that they're part of something bigger than just pancakes and their experience plays a primary role in all that.

Shawn:
I love that role. You can hear the passion that you have coming through about how much you care about not only the people that work there, but also how you work with those people.

Jeremy:
One of the things we say at Snooze is it only takes a moment to make a difference. So ultimately it's my job to ensure that every interaction that myself and my team has, is making a difference in the lives of all of our Snoozers.

Dane:
Well, and that's a great segue into teeing up the topic for today. You talk a lot about how people feel, what their experience is. So this is a topic that I think is, well, it's very near and dear obviously to Jeremy's heart, and near and dear to me and Shawn as well. And that is something that should be really top of mind for every employer. And that is workplace culture. We're going to dive in with Jeremy, talk a little bit about building and maintaining a positive culture and an inclusive one for all of your frontline workers. Hear from Jeremy on some of the things that he and his team have implemented there at Snooze, as well as practical ways that you can start building that type of culture at your organization. So before we jump in though, Jeremy, one of the things we ask all of our guests, get us started is, what was your favorite frontline or hourly job and why?

Jeremy:
Ooh, I love this question. The first thing that comes to mind is when I was 16, I had the opportunity to be the playground attendant at our local McDonald's. All of my friends got jobs there when they opened and they all got to be cashiers and cooks and drive through window operators. And I got to host birthday parties and play in the playground all day long. Was it fun? Yes. But what I really took out of that was how much I actually enjoyed being in service of other people. Because every day I would get to go home and be like, here's the 75 people that I made smile, laugh and created an experience where they could come to a McDonald's that's no different than any other one, but have them be able to do something different than any other McDonald's they've been to before.

Shawn:
I can totally see you doing that. That display so perfectly to your personality. I can see you doing that or the college campus tour guide or the camp counselor, whatever.

Jeremy:
I mean, I did apply to Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey College because I enjoyed entertaining people so much.

Dane:
There you go.

Shawn:
Very nice.

Dane:
What were you going to do with the circus?

Jeremy:
Oh, I was going to be a circus clown without a doubt.

Dane:
Okay. I like it. Did you ever dress up in the Ronald McDonald clown suit while hosting the birthday parties on the playground?

Jeremy:
No, but that would've been super fun.

Dane:
It's like two birds with one stone.

Jeremy:
Yeah. I always joked because I applied to Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey College and the University of Colorado. I got into both. I think I probably made the right decision, but every once in a while I'm like, God, I would've got to see the world as a clown in the circus.

Dane:
That's pretty interesting. All right, let's go ahead and jump in. Talk a little bit about what we're really here to talk about, which is workplace culture. So Jeremy, let's go ahead and have you start off telling folks a little bit about one, why you're so passionate about employee culture and why it is so, so, so important for organizations to really make sure that this is top of mind.

Jeremy:
My passion for culture really comes from the opportunities that I've had to work with so many companies that have great cultures and I've really got to see the benefit and the output that those cultures have had, not only on my life, but on the life of the people that I worked with. From an employee experience perspective, there's nothing like going to work every day and being surrounded by a bunch of motivated, driven, and passionate people who are engaged in what they do and ultimately positive employee cultures create engagement and that engagement creates retention, if you want to narrow it down or zero it down to their minimum. When I think about culture, I really think about it first from the sociological perspective that what makes culture is the shared set of values, beliefs, behaviors, language, and social practices. And so when you apply that same mentality to the workplace, when you create those shared values, beliefs, behaviors, language, and social practices, ultimately the output is what builds your culture.

And that can go one of two ways. You could have great beliefs and great values and people who communicate in a way that builds positive culture. Or if you have people who have a misalignment on values, your behaviors are not in support or in service of what you want to do. And you have those social practices that are counterintuitive to what you're trying to accomplish. You'll create negative culture. I always think about it from the perspective of walking into the break room and you see two people sitting there talking. Working in the restaurant industry, I think about two servers sitting there in the break room, and if what they're talking about is that new person who started and they're judging the way they look, they're judging the way they showed up. They're saying, "Oh, it's another new person. They're not going to make it". That in and of itself creates that negative culture.

And it's those behaviors and those practices that influence a negative work culture. Whereas you walk into that same break room and you have people who are like, "Yeah, I get to train the new person and I get to show them this really cool thing that we get to do". Now you're creating those programs and practices that influence and create a positive culture. And I get super excited about it, to be able to have my hand and play a part and building things that create that positive culture. And I could geek out on it for hours.

Shawn:
I love that, the comparison of the two break room scenarios and just the difference that that obviously makes in that new person's life and that what hopefully is one of the best days of their life, starting their first day there. But there's also that concentric circle effect on just as the teammate having that conversation with another teammate and what that does for them, as opposed to the more cynical gossipy type of an approach.

Jeremy:
It all starts in how you establish those company norms. If it is a normal practice to gossip, to shame, to blame, to judge, to look at a situation from a pessimistic or negative view, that in and of itself continues to breed a culture where that's acceptable and you can never get to that great culture of perspective. But when you create a culture that's built around that shared love and respect and passion, and that we're all in this together, it's such a basic and simple foundation for building a positive culture and influencing that experience overall.

Dane:
Well, and to your point, Shawn, and what you're saying right there, that experience is exactly what matters from the day one. I mean, it sets the tone a lot of times for the experience that they're going to have going forward. If they come into an organization where like you said, it's gossipy or it's judgmental and things like that, it's very hard to come out of that in a positive way to recover essentially, from that and write the ship there. It's much easier essentially, to start in the good space, not in the bad space.

Jeremy:
It goes back to that basic definition. When you have those shared beliefs that are rooted in negativity or negative experience, you cannot build anything positive coming out of that. But when you had shared beliefs that are rooted in positivity, you build positivity out of that.

Dane:
What are some of the things that you all have implemented as Snooze that reinforce that, exactly what you were just saying that build that camaraderie from the get go.

Jeremy:
I could spend hours diving into this, but if I break it down to a few core things, at Snooze, it all starts with our language. We don't call our employees, employees. We call them, Snoozers giving them an identity and creating that shared language amongst them, that you belong to something more than just another employee at another company. We call it a Snooze family. And we demonstrate from the moment you walk in the door, that you are a part of that family, from the welcome kit that you receive, your Snooze gear, all of those intentional touch points are created so that you feel like you're being welcomed into something bigger than just, "Oh, you're here to serve tables or cook on the line or greet people as they come in the door". We also don't have an org chart. We call it a love chart. And that's because every single person at Snooze has a leader who loves them. And that leader is responsible for their experience. They're responsible for their development and they're responsible for setting them up for success.

Dane:
I love that. I love the love chart. I've never heard of it.

Shawn:
Yeah. Me neither.

Dane:
It's funny, you mentioned the Snoozers. So at goHappy, we don't call ourselves employees, we call ourselves go getters actually. The exact same thing. And Shawn, I know how passionate you are and we all are at goHappy about building an inclusive culture. And it's just so cool to hear other companies doing that same thing.

Shawn:
Yeah. It's such a scale.

Dane:
Yeah. Right. We're a small team. You guys are much larger than we are.

Jeremy:
I always like to tell people it starts with your hiring practices. Your culture needs to be built into everything you do from how you talk to a prospective candidate to how you engage with them. Your culture needs to flow through all of those touch points before somebody even walks in the door so that as they're getting onboarded, they're already engaged and ready to be a part of that. And then at Snooze, we have a few specific programs that we've really built out beyond that. The first one being a continuous feedback program, where feedback is core and essential to those behaviors that we have as an organization. So we will continuously give you the feedback so you can feel successful, show up every day to be the best of the best and continue to provide that amazing service to all of our guests. And then what comes with feedback is listening.
So we've put programs and practices in place so that we can hear what's happening within our restaurants. From biannual engagement surveys, we do a state of the state every quarter. We have annual leadership forums where all of our leaders come to each region and sit down with our regional leaders and hear what's going on and engage with them. And then our CEO, COO and our senior leadership team are in our restaurants constantly, listening, hearing, and taking that feedback themselves so that we can continue to build a culture and grow the way that we need to. We've also established recognition programs. So 30, 60, 90 day recognition. We recognize every anniversary for every Snoozer. The goHappy platform has been a huge part of that because we've been able to do text communications as a happy anniversary and happy birthday. So that's made it really easy for us to not only recognize through some gift, but also that verbal recognition as well, spot recognition.

And then we have a program that we call the people pickle. The people pickle is based out of, I don't know if it's a real story or one of those stories that have just been told over time, but it's about a little boy who goes into an ice cream shop for his birthday. And when the shop owner says, "Hey, what can I get you"? The kid says, "I want a pickle". And his dad is like, "Oh, this is an ice cream shop. They don't sell pickles". And the owner says, "No, hold on a moment", and leaves the store and goes down the street and buys the kid a pickle and brings it back. And the kid's birthday was made because he was given a pickle at the ice cream store. And so we have a people pickle program that really embodies the spirit of that, which is what can we do to continue to elevate the experience of our Snoozers through those little one off opportunities to make that moment incredibly important to them.

And then we put a focus on development as well as part of our overall cultural strategy. So every Snoozer is developed within our organization, no matter what your career path is, when you leave Snooze, or if you leave Snooze, you will leave Snooze a better person. Not only because we helped you grow professionally, but because we've also developed that time with you to grow personally as well. We do Snooze life check-ins twice a year. We're constantly doing happiness rating check-ins where we see how happy you are and how engaged you are. And then I think the final piece of our overall strategy is the integration piece, where from the moment you come in, we're integrating you into those norms, our standards, the alignment on purpose and our overall why statement for what we do, so that you understand how you contribute to the bigger picture and what you do overall during your experience with us.

Dane:
Lots and lots of goodness. I would love to unpack a little bit of that if we could. And I had never heard the pickle/ice cream store either. Make a lot of pregnant women happy having pickles and ice cream. So the whole chain, pickles and ice cream. So curious, when you were mentioning the feedback to Snoozers, is that coming to them in the form of one on ones that local manager is having with them or whoever their local team lead is? Or how is that done? Is that done on any regular cadence? Just again curious there. And also, maybe we should have mentioned this at the outset. You all have now 50 plus restaurants, right?

Jeremy:
Yeah. 52 going on 53, and should be around 55 or 56 by the end of the year with another eight to 12 next year. Right now, about 2,500 employees or 2,500 snoozers and going on 3,000, hopefully in 2023.

Shawn:
And that's across how many states?

Jeremy:
Nine states.

Dane:
So again, doing all of this at scale and growing pretty darn quickly also. So anyway, back to the question around, how is that feedback being delivered to folks?

Jeremy:
Yeah, so it's a two part strategy. So every frontline Snoozer should be getting a monthly one-on-one check in with one of the leaders of the restaurant, whether it be the GM, the AGM, the sous chef, or the head chef, one of your leaders will be checking in monthly in a standard scheduled time. And then where we find feedback being the most valuable, is checking in with every Snoozer at the end of every shift. How was your day? What did you do that made you feel successful? And what were the barriers that got in your way, if you did not feel successful? And just having those honest and in the moment dialogues around success and barriers, it really helps keep that feedback loop going and providing value to everybody.

Dane:
I love that. I think it's so important. Shawn, you must dig in there. I mean, it's so important for employees to not only be able to give feedback, but to get feedback. And I think people forget that. They're just going about their day. "Oh yeah. Your reward is your paycheck. Great job". But there's so much more that employees and team members or Snoozers, or go-getters need to make sure that they understand where they can improve, what they're doing well, and they need to hear that.

Jeremy:
And you touched on something so important there, Dane, that feedback isn't always critical or constructive. We always say that we have redirecting and reinforcing feedback. So reinforcing being like, "Wow, I saw you on the line today and the way you put those pancakes out, perfectly sized and all those ingredients were placed exactly how they should be", or that redirecting like, "Hey, what can we do to support you in improving on this skill or improving this behavior"?

Dane:
And then on the recognition side, you called out specifically the 30, 60, 90 day. Can you say a bit more about what you all are doing on that front?

Jeremy:
Yeah. So this is definitely a project that we're in the middle of right now. We're looking for in that first 90 days, what are those recognition touch points that we can put in place? So some of the things that we're rolling out in the next 30 days, once you've been with us for 30 days, as part of that recognition, you get to bring yourself and three guests into Snooze and you get a meal and a drink for each of those guests. It's a way for us to recognize your first 30 days with us, but also a way for us to invite your family in. So many of our Snoozers have families or friends that they consider family, so how can we show them what you get to do every day? The experience that you get to create. And so that's happening at the 30 day mark with us.

And then at the 60 day mark, the head chef and one of our AGMs or sous chefs sit down with all new Snoozers who have started and they do a breakfast together. And that's just a way for us to acknowledge and break bread together to say, "Hey, how's this experience been for you? And you all are contributing so much, so this is our opportunity to take care of you, show you that we care, show you that we care through the love of food and really get to understand your experience and who you are as an individual". And then once that 90 day mark hits, it's really about recognizing what you've been able to accomplish from a training perspective, a development perspective, celebrating all of your wins and then looking for those cross-training opportunities where we can begin to think about how you as an individual can grow within the organization and cross-training use so that you have the opportunities that you have desired.

Shawn:
Those are really amazing initiatives. And you mentioned you guys were still in the throes of building that program out. Can you talk a little bit more about as you've gone through building these initiatives and taking on the improvements to culture and the enhancements and all of that. What are some of the learnings that you've come out of it with and what were some of the challenges that you guys have faced along the way?

Jeremy:
I would say one of the biggest learnings that we've experienced overall and that I've experienced in my career, is alignment is core. If someone is misaligned with the vision or the why behind what you're doing, that in and of itself will hurt your ability to establish that as a behavior or a norm. And so being able to take people on that journey and tell this story that is important to them, how it influences them, how it impacts them, is critical to the ability to build any culture or change or update or enhance.

The other thing that I would say is cultures evolve. So one of the biggest learnings that I've had is there's things you may have done 10 years ago, that don't work the same way they did, and as fun as they were, and as great as they were, and as memorable as they are, you have to be open to saying, does this still fit with the culture that we have today? Because culture is those shared beliefs and shared values. And at the root of sharing anything are all of the individual people and personalities and individuals and all of those outside experiences that are getting brought into your culture. And so it took a while for me to recognize that you have to be willing to evolve with your culture and grow with it and not hold onto those things that felt good to you in the moment that may not feel as good today.

Shawn:
Oh, I can imagine. So the company is 16 years old, and you've been with the team for three years or so.

Jeremy:
Two and a half. I like to call it three though. I round up.

Shawn:
There you go. There you go. How many restaurants were you all when you got there?

Jeremy:
Restaurant number 41 opened on my first day at Snooze, which was actually a really cool experience because I'm brand new to the team. And the first thing that I experienced right after my onboarding is we all go down to our test kitchen, all of our mother shippers. We don't say the corporate office, we're the mothership because we're here to support and guide all of our restaurants. But we go down to our test kitchen, which is named after our first Snoozer who was ever hired, who still works with us. And his Snooze nickname is Al Hefe. So we call our test kitchen Al Hefe, but I got to go down there and celebrate restaurant 41 where we video conference in with the restaurant team who was opening that restaurant out in Westport, which is in Kansas City, Missouri. And it was the coolest experience to be like, "Whoa, what am I coming into here? Because if this is what we do when we open a restaurant, it's incredible".

Dane:
That's quite a first day, just get to witness that.

Jeremy:
Well, and it goes to that culture, right? I said, we have the culture of recognition or recognition is a paramount part of our cultural foundation. That's how we were able to from 500 miles away or I'm probably doing really bad geography there, but however far away Kansas City Missouri is, we got to play a part in that restaurant's opening experience as well and celebrate them and celebrate that victory with that team that opened up a brand new restaurant and has a hundred guests sitting out in their dining room, eating pancakes.

Shawn:
Yeah. I love it real quick. And I know we need to keep moving, but just curious. Do you have any recommendations for other companies who are going through rapid growth, what you all are having, where you have people who've maybe been around for a while and there are some cultural things that they did that to your point, they maybe just don't play the same role anymore. For whatever reason you guys need to change those, how do you help those people who've been around for a while who may be still really wet to those old things, to not be as wet to them and understand, okay, there's a reason that we're changing X or Y?

Jeremy:
It goes back to that alignment and that connection and communication perspective. They need to feel connected to the why behind the change. If you make the change without starting, by helping them understand the why, helping them understand their new role in promoting that and leading that and growing that. If you don't do that, then you get that resistance because I don't understand why we're changing this. This has worked great for 10 years. We've always done it this way. The advice that I always give is start with the why going back to Simon Sinek. But if you can start with the why and help people understand that, then from there, you can move to the what and the how. And following that model has really been one of the most successful ways that we've been able to take people along that journey. And if they're not willing to get behind the why, then it's asking the hard question of is where we're going, the same opportunity you want to be aligned with. And it's never the easy conversation to have, but there's opportunities where that just doesn't come into play and somebody isn't aligned anymore.

Shawn:
That's the redirecting conversation to someplace else.

Dane:
Oh, and Jeremy, you were right on your geography estimation by the way. Kansas City is about 600 miles from Denver, so that's not bad.

Jeremy:
Nice. See, I did learn something in grade school.

Dane:
Good job. That was pretty impressive. I was going to say, I just somewhat recently made that drive and that sounds about right. So Jeremy, so you talked a little bit about some of the... Shawn asked what are some of the opportunities and things you want to make sure you're looking at and the alignment is a big, important piece of that. You mentioned making sure you're asking the why piece. What other challenges have you faced or are you facing, implementing some of these new initiatives?

Jeremy:
The biggest challenge that we face that everybody faced is we're all coming out of a pandemic and making any sort of change on top of the impact that COVID had on the industry, on our restaurants is tough because we had so much momentum and then everything came to a halt. We had to reimagine everything and now we're coming back to a hybrid of the path we were on and the path we need to be on and helping people understand that some of the stuff we're doing now is no longer because of the pandemic, but because it's right for the business today. And just being able to articulate that and communicate that in a way that is authentic and genuine to who we are, but mostly still staying true to our core beliefs amongst every change that we make, amongst everything that we do amongst all of our growth, it all comes back to the idea that pancakes can be a force of nature.
And we still give back to our communities. Last year, we gave over a million dollars to our communities based on our 1% give back program. We are still a sustainable organization. We are still committed to improving the planet through every interaction and every action that we have. And so it's helping people see that no matter what changes we're making, the core of who we are has never changed in 16 years at Snooze. And it never will in helping people recognize that each of these changes only enhance our ability to give back and do right for our planet.

Dane:
You hear about companies that have super strong and inclusive cultures like Snooze. Having that is probably one of the reasons that the pandemic wasn't quite as bad for you all. You have that super, inclusive culture where people know that they're still part of a family almost. And so your family's there for you. So navigating the uncertainty and tumultuous last two years, I imagine the culture played a huge role in that for you all.

Jeremy:
It absolutely did. And it's interesting Dane, that you use the word family because we, like every other restaurant, had to make tough calls at the beginning of COVID. And a lot of our Snoozers were unable to work for two, three months because we didn't have the business. We were shut down. We didn't have the dine-in experience, but all of those Snoozers were our family. So what we offered to every one of them is that you could come in daily for a meal and always know that you have a hot plate of food that will be served to you.
We put together a program that we called the compass challenge, where we awarded any Snoozer who had been laid off, or was still with us, the opportunity to spend $150 on something that improved their wellbeing. So anything that was aligned to our compass. So we have a compass values. So sustainability, community, individuality, passion, best of the best, Snoozers and guests, aligning people around that but saying, we'll give you up to $150 to improve who you are so that when you are invited back, as soon as we can get you back in, you come back a better person, because you're a part of this family and we can't wait for you to be back inside our doors.

Dane:
I love that. I love that so much. All right. So you guys have implemented all these amazing initiatives. You talk about all the stuff you guys do from the Snoozer gear to gathering feedback to the people pickle, all these unique things. So talk a little bit about results. So you probably have these initiatives in place, what results have you all seen at the business level?

Jeremy:
Data is my best friend, especially when it comes to everything that we do, because we're doing it because we're trying to, and always improving our employee experience. But we still answer to a board of directors and I still answer to the CEO of my company. And so data has been our best friend during that. And what we've found is that through the work that we've done, eight out of 10 Snoozers recommend Snooze as a great place to work and are proud to come to work. We got that data directly from our engagement survey that we offer twice a year. And it has consistently remained the same as we've continued to invest money into cultural initiatives, we continue to see that eight out of 10 Snoozers recommend us and are proud to work for us.

Nine out 10 Snoozers feel they can be their authentic self at work. This question in 2020, it was seven out of 10. So we've been able to improve by 20 percentage point on authenticity and allowing people to come to Snooze to feel like they have a sense of belonging in a place that they can be themselves. And I think one of the biggest things that all of this influences is our ability to continue to give back to our communities through those in kind donations.

Dane:
Did you say that in 2020, it was seven out of 10 and just recently it was nine out of 10? So through a pandemic, you all were able to increase that score. That is impressive.

Jeremy:
My first engagement survey with Snooze was in 2020 because I started February 5th, 2020, and then we did an engagement survey. And during the pandemic we lost one percentage point on overall engagement. And when we were talking with our engagement partner, they were astounded and they were like, everyone else in your industry is losing 10 to 15 points in engagement. And we were through the face of a pandemic, only able to lose one percentage point. I think the other thing that we've been able to demonstrate is the William Blair Agency puts out a Glassdoor report every year and Snooze is now ranking in the top 10 restaurants. We rank in the top 10 in every category that they look at, competing with some of the big cultural giants like In and Out Burger and Portillo's, I mess them up every time. But the people that you hear have these great cultures, we're ranking up right up against them, which is just validation that the work that we're doing is paying off in the long run.

Dane:
That's great to hear that you guys are, even as the little engine that could. You're not that big monsters brands, like you said, but you guys are still coming in strong with the culture aspect, because you recognize the importance that it brings to your business at the end of the day. Like you said, not every company is ranking in the top 10, just the fact of the matter. You're not there because some people have not made it one of the more important initiatives for their organization. So what advice would you give to folks that are looking to improve their workplace culture, their inclusivity? Where should people start?

Jeremy:
The advice that I would give is start somewhere. Every little thing that you do is one step in the right direction. So don't try to... I was about to try to throw a cliche out and I'm told I'm not allowed to give them anymore because I mess every one of them up, but start somewhere. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Everything that you do is going to help you get closer to continuing to build and improve your culture. I would also say find a mentor. There are so many people out there who have done this work before you. So if you're new to this or you're wondering, how do I do this, find someone that has done it and ask them the questions you're asking me. Ask them the questions you have and leverage that mentor relationship.
I would say to any single person who's listening to this, find me on LinkedIn, send me a message if you have questions and I'll tell you my experience and my history and be more than happy to share my thoughts and ideas. The other thing is build relationships. The relationships that you have with other people can continue to inspire you. You can continue to leverage the knowledge that they have so that you can put the right programs and practices in place. And then externally, figure out who those partners are that are going to help you build the systems and the knowledge that you need to support whatever initiatives you're putting in place. Our partnership with you and other people has really benefited us and really having the tools to be successful in all of the initiatives that we have.

Dane:
Love it. And I love the advice of just starting somewhere. You listed all the amazing stuff that you guys have implemented and it wasn't like it was done over a weekend. It took years to build.

Jeremy:
I look at Snoozes' culture, it took 16 years to get where we are today. Our core beliefs have never changed in 16 years, but we've tried things that have worked and we've tried things that haven't worked. All of that is what's created the culture that we have today.

Shawn:
Jeremy, any practical recommendations to an HR leader who knows their culture isn't where it needs to be. Turnover rate let's say is higher than an industry norm, whatever it might be. And they're struggling with [inaudible 00:33:37], all right again back to Dane's question, where do I start? And your point around alignment to me earlier or to both of us earlier sticks out of, "Okay. Do they need to ideally go to their leader of the organization and talk about how important this is", and if they're doing that, any recommendations on what do I talk about? Again, from the practical business outcomes, turnover rates, being lower applicant to higher ratio being higher, any of those things? Any recommendations to someone in that position?

Jeremy:
Absolutely. The first recommendation that I would have is all culture work has an ROI and it's an ROI that directly impacts the bottom line of any organization because the stronger your culture is, the better productivity that you're going to have, the better engagement you're going to have and the better retention you're going to have. So all of those can very practically be communicated to that bottom line impact. So know that when you're sitting down with that CEO or CFO, if you can tie it back to the return on investment that they can get by investing in this, it's a place to start. It's a place to open up that dialogue and it puts it into what most CEOs and CFOs want to hear is how much is this going to cost me? And yes, a little investment upfront is going to cost you upfront, but it's going to have tenfold results in a one year, two year, three year strategy.
The other thing is not only talking about ROI, but talking about ROR, which is return on relationships. So the relationships that you are creating with your employees by building and creating strong cultures are ultimately going to help you drive that word of mouth, that ability for someone to leave and say, "Yeah, you do want to go to work for that company. I had a great five years there". And so how do you build that investment in those relationships internally? That has always been one of the things that when I talk about culture with any senior leader, it's rooted and founded in that. The other thing that I would say in relation to that too, is don't be afraid to have the conversation with your senior leadership team and be transparent and vulnerable with where the opportunities are. All culture work is based on people and all businesses are ran and operated by people and some technology, but people are there. And so what comes with people is definitely opportunities and don't shy away from expressing what those are.

Shawn:
I never heard ROR, but I love that again. I know you mentioned that you and your team are very much data driven data hounds. When you're going back to whomever, the CFO, CEO, COO, or whoever you're sitting down with to talk about some of the different things that you're doing and you're investing in, are you then showing to them, okay, look, here's where we sit relative to industry benchmarks on again, turnover rates and that thing. So that you're proactively putting that thing in front of them or walk me through, how does that whole thing work for you all?

Jeremy:
I don't want to take credit for ROR. I learned that from Tommy Spalding, who is one of my favorite authors. He has a couple of books out that taught me that. So I won't take credit for that and I want to make sure I get him credit. Shawn, I will send you a couple of his books. It'll be my thank you for all of the amazing conversations you and I have had. But to go back to your question, sorry, I totally diverged myself there.

Dane:
No, no. We got to go look him up for next year's summit.

Jeremy:
Yes. He actually was just a keynote speaker at our annual leadership summit at Snooze.

Dane:
Oh cool.

Jeremy:
Yeah. He lives here in Denver and is just a really cool guy.

Dane:
The one we want to come to next year.

Jeremy:
Yes. The one that you will be at next year.

Dane:
That's right.

Jeremy:
But to go back to your question. Yeah. Industry benchmarking is a key component to having those conversations, but I also think that it's also internal benchmarking. So putting that engagement survey out there so that you can truly get a pulse on where your culture is and see where those opportunities lie so that when you sit down and you have that conversation, you can say, this is where we are as an organization. This is where we benchmark against our industry. This is where we want to be in two years. So now as you invest that money, not only are you seeing the return on investment from a turnover or retention perspective, you can also show from an engagement perspective, which we know directly ties to turnover and retention. The progress that you've made goes back to why we do two surveys a year, because it allows us to continuously benchmark against ourselves, but also the industry across the board.

Dane:
I love that. And it validates the work that you're doing. It says that this is how we're measuring our success. And I think a lot of people struggle with that. You talked about these initiatives are measurable. You have the ROI, you have the ROR and you have the benchmarks that you can put yourself against with those engagement numbers. I love it. All right. Shawn, anything else for Jeremy today?

Shawn:
Well, again, I could sit here and ask Jeremy questions all day long. Maybe we need to do a multi part series with Jeremy, but no, to be sensitive to what we've said, we'll do each of these podcasts within. No, I'm good to go.

Dane:
Yeah. Cool. Jeremy, anything else you'd like to share with the audience today?

Jeremy:
No, I'm just so thankful that y'all invited me to be a part of this and that I get the opportunity to talk about culture. Hopefully what came through is that it's something I'm incredibly passionate about. Something everyone should be incredibly passionate about. And if you want to do a multi part series, I'll be welcome back at any time.

Shawn:
I love it. Well, there are so many different things that you hit on. And again, I'm just struck by, and I've known this, but even more struck by doing this today, just how there is the want to within the organization to have it and the intentionality that is around it and then how data driven it is that you all are about it. So it's not just a fluffy thing that I think some people can be cynical about some of the cultural investments to be made. But again, in y'all's case, looking at it from the perspective, yes, it is the right thing to do, but also it has that bottom line impact. And so anyway, again, I know a whole lot more, we can take and unpack, which I look forward to hopefully being able to do more of.

Jeremy:
Absolutely. I'd be happy to.

Dane:
To your point, Shawn, I love that we're looking at it and having the conversations that culture isn't just a fluffy thing. It is a way to, I want to say protect. We'll use the word protect. Protect your most important asset, which is your people. So, okay. Well Jeremy, thank you so much for joining us today. It was an awesome, awesome conversation. There's so much to I think we can learn from what you and your team is doing it Snooze. And I cannot wait to do another one of these with you and dig in deeper. So thank you so much for taking the time out to be with us today.

Jeremy:
Thank you both as well.

Shawn:
Yeah. Jeremy, thank you always a delight to be with. You always learn a ton of stuff whenever I'm with you. So thanks a ton.

Dane:
All right. And with that, we'll go ahead and sign off. Thank you again for joining us today. Keep an eye out for our next episode. And as always, we hope that you all goHappy.

Topics: goHappy Podcast
Dane Schwartz

Written by Dane Schwartz

Dane is an experienced marketing professional with more than 15 years under his belt and prides himself on being a unique blend of strategy and action. His experience ranges from enterprise organizations to small startups, and across numerous industries. As the former leader of Product Marketing at Snagajob, Dane is a storyteller who loves bringing brands and products to life and connecting with the end-user!