“I had no idea it mattered so much.”
A CEO said this to me about a year ago. I’d run into him at a conference. As we sat down at lunch together, he shared something that had happened to him recently…
A few months prior, he had asked his team a question through Know Your Company (they’re a happy customer!). The question was:
“Would you like a new office chair?”
The CEO initially thought the question was a little silly, to be frank. Did office chairs really matter? He doubted anything meaningful would come of the question, but he decided to ask it anyway.
Turns out, every single person in the office (they’re about a 14-person company) responded with, “Yes, I’d like a new office chair.” Not only that, but many of them wrote lengthy, in-depth responses about how unhappy their chairs were making them — how it hurt their lower backs, how it kept them from concentrating and focusing on their work.
“I was shocked,” the CEO told me. “Something I thought was so small, was actually pretty big.”
So he decided to do something about it. The following day, the CEO asked everyone to pick out their own office chairs via Amazon or another site online. The chairs got shipped to the office the next week. Everyone spent a few hours all together during one afternoon, assembling their new office chair, laughing and joking with one another.
To the CEO’s surprise, it became a bonding event. He described: “That single moment alone — getting people new offices chairs — boosted morale in the company more than anything else I’ve tried. The energy of the office has completely shifted since then.”
He continued: “I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on training programs and all sorts of employee engagement initiatives… and office chairs was the thing that did it?!”
The CEO couldn’t help but laugh. He never expected that acting on something so small would make such a big difference.
But it did. And it makes sense.
Taking action on something small is the single most effective way to increase morale in your company. When you do something that an employee suggests, you’re literally sending the message: “I want things to be as YOU would like them to be.” That’s powerful. Actions truly speak louder than words in this case.
It may sound obvious, but we often forget this as leaders: People share feedback because they want some form of action taken. No one is saying they’d like a new office chair just for the sake of saying it — they’d like the issue addressed somehow. Doing something (even if it is just getting new office chairs) reinforces that you’re listening as a leader, and encourages folks to speak up and be honest with you in the future.
Consider it a “quick win.” No matter how small, it makes a real difference.
Is there something small that was requested by an employee, that you haven’t gotten around to yet? Knock out the quick win.
Is there a decision that you’ve been sitting on, because you didn’t think it was that important? Knock out the quick win.
Employees value responsiveness. They’ll feel encouraged that their words led to action. That momentum will have a positive effect on morale.
Even if it’s office chairs, it’s a quick win. Knock it out.