The sales industry has long been known for a hardcore attitude towards their employees and representatives. You work on commission – you get out there – and you make sales if you want to pay your bills.
This business model has possibly contributed to the marketing sector’s reputation for low ethical standards, poor treatment of employees, and ruthless work practices. Plus, much of the cutting-edge research out there right now suggests this is far from the best way to get results.
A 2016 Gallup meta-analysis found that firms with high employee engagement are 21% more productive – just imagine that impact on a typical marketing contract. To us this is simply common sense: the better you treat your workforce, the better they’ll work for you. When employees feel engaged and enfranchised in the business they’re working for they have better mental health, take less sick days, and they create closer working relationships with each other. This is the kind of high-level work environment that leads to greater output, deeper collaboration, and more innovative projects.
We were one of the first agencies to abolish the fee for sale remuneration structure and introduce a baseline salary with incentives for our agents. In our opinion, the stability of a guaranteed weekly salary is essential for good mental health and peak performance.
The traditional marketing world view seems to have been that a commission basis is the best way to incentivise agents to sell at their best. This attitude fails to take into account the trials, tribulations, and general unpredictability of life. The reality is that human beings need to know their basic survival needs are being met to operate at their optimum. If you’re worried about making enough commission so you can pay your bills and keep your home at the end of the month – it’s going to cause you problems and limit your performance. And what if you do become sick, and take a financial hit that month? We didn’t want to see that happen to anyone we employ, so we decided to do things differently – and the pay-offs to us as a business have been huge.
When you flip the script and start investing in the people representing you – you get very different results. Paying our agents a baseline salary makes sense to us because it’s simply what people need to thrive and feel secure. We also train them to a high standard because the results come back to us threefold in their work. You can train a workforce to a bare minimum standard – but the studies indicate you’re heading for poor engagement and low productivity. The vast majority of people we encounter at GIG crave growth and stimulation in their professional lives – you should strive to create a workplace where this is encouraged, funded, and facilitated.
Treat your employees with respect and invest in their wellbeing and development – and they’ll start bringing their personalities to work. Not the dulled down, largely censored version of a person you get in a lot of work environments. We see so much authenticity, expression, and camaraderie coming out in our network, because we’ve cultivated our culture to be that way. And for a business that depends on successful face-to-face interactions and engaging customer connections, this sense of shared humanity has been nothing but a bonus.
A holistic work environment should create space for your self development – this is baked into our employee packages. Placing a big emphasis on personal development creates an incredible atmosphere where everyone – at all levels of the business – gets to refine skills and push themselves to new limits. This feels so much more productive and effective to us than a ruthless workplace culture where making cash sales for a distant management team is the only priority.
Developing individuals as a part of your corporate culture has many benefits – with one being that people actually enjoy being at work. Another benefit we’ve found to focussing on our employees as individuals is that we are more open to diversity and inclusivity than other more traditional agencies. When we recruit we are all about personality criteria – do you have what it takes to build connections, and share our determination to continually work on yourself? We’re open to all applications regardless of gender, educational and cultural background – we focus on the skillset and work ethic, and we commit to nurturing that individual through training, social engagement, and the full support of our management teams.
We’d like to see more agencies out there investing in their employees by providing opportunities for education and self-development. Most importantly, marketing companies should provide their sales agents with the stability they deserve. As job creators, we have a social responsibility to design business models that have a positive impact – and lead the way when it comes to making supportive work environments the norm, not the exception.