An Employer Who's Happy When You're Happy

Posted by Sarah Lewis-Kulin on April 16 2013

sarah_lewis-kulin By Sarah Lewis-Kulin

How many times has this happened to you?  Your team’s customer service performance metrics are declining – and your CEO decides it is necessary to take serious and immediate corrective action.  … By offering you an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii. NOT if you improve your results, but if you take their challenge to feel happier!

Well, it happened at Ruby Receptionists, a small Oregon-based company that provides personalized live, virtual receptionist service to small businesses and professionals throughout North America.

The Problem: Declining Accuracy

Earlier this year, the company’s CEO, Jill Nelson, noticed a concerning decline in the company’s otherwise excellent accuracy levels.  She decided to approach this problem through their company value of “Fostering Happiness.”  Jill read an article by a prominent positive psychologist, Shawn Achor, that cited research indicating that happy employees are 19% more accurate and decided she found a solution to the problem!

The Solution: Increasing Happiness

So Ruby receptionists were encouraged to create a “happiness habit” by keeping a journal for 21 days. In the journal, people recorded three things new things each day they were grateful for, a positive experience, and were challenged to complete one positive gratitude action.  Employees were also invited to do brief daily meditation and exercise for an extra boost. Employees who participated in this voluntary happiness-building challenge were entered into a raffle and one VERY HAPPY winner received a trip for two to Hawaii!

The Results: 60% Performance Increase & Happier Staff

I bet you’re wondering if this wacky plan made any difference in the business problem. Well, Ruby Receptionists hasn’t been named one of Oregon’s fastest growing companies for the last five years for nothing. At the outset of the project, Ruby Receptionists had 1 reported error for every 1,000 calls. Within six weeks of the journaling program, errors dropped down to 1 per 2,500 calls – that’s a 60% improvement!

So the next time numbers start slipping in your customer service department, encourage your boss to think about what she’s done to make you happy lately!