Green Goldfish - Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement


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Green Goldfish is based on the simple premise that employees are the key drivers of customer experience and that “Happy Employees Create Happy Customers.” The books focuses on 15 different ways to drive employee engagement and reinforce a strong corporate culture.

It's the second book in the goldfish trilogy. The first book was an Amazon Best Seller entitled, What’s Your Purple Goldfish. Purple focused on customers, whereby Green focuses on employees. Both books are based on a revolutionary new approach called marketing g.l.u.e. (marketing by giving little unexpected extras).

The book is based on the findings of the Green Goldfish Project, an effort which crowd sourced 1,001 examples of signature added value for employees. Key themes emerged from the Project. The book is filled with over 200 examples.


"Stan is the sherpa that guides executives along the journey between the heart and mind of business stakeholders. Stakeholders aren't always customers though. At a time when company vision and culture matters more than ever, it takes inspired and engaged employees to bring them to life."

- Brian Solis, author of What's the Future of Business #WTF, The End of Business as Usual and Engage!

“So often overlooked, and so very vital to building company value... empowering employees to support each other and the brand. Stan Phelps ‘gets’ it and Green Goldfish will walk you step-by-step though achieving this critical goal.”

- Ted Rubin, author of Return on Relationship

“Great customer centric organizations only exist because of engaged and empowered employees. The Green Goldfish is packed with awesome examples of what world class companies are doing today to inspire and reward their employees. If you see value in truly building an “A Team,” Green Goldfish will be, without question, your single best reference.”

- Chris Zane, Founder and President of Zane's Cycles, author of Reinventing the Wheel, the Science of Creating Lifetime Customers

“Stan Phelps takes customer service to a whole new level by focusing on EMPLOYEE service, and how to do well by your employees - so they take care of your customers. Packed with stories, insights and R.U.L.E.S. any company can follow, this book is a must-read for managers of companies of all shapes and sizes who know that employees don't leave jobs - they leave managers, especially when they don't feel your love and appreciation. Pick this up, and start engaging your team and making more GREEN!

- Phil Gerbyshak, author of The Naked Truth of Social Media

Stan can be reached at 919.360.4702 or at

Published in: Business, Technology

Green Goldfish - Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement

  1. 1. st GREEN GOLDFISH by Stan Phelps OLDFISHPHELPS mpany er and ill walk HIP ause of Goldfish d class d their Team,” le best EʼS THE evel by by your Packed follow, s of all ve jobs el your ng your OF BEYOND DOLLARS: 15 WAYS TO DRIVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & REINFORCE CULTURE
  2. 2. “If you’re looking for ways to inspire your employees to love your company, and if you’re smart enough to realize that money can’t buy you love, then you need real-life, uber- successful examples from real-life, uber- profitable companies. Look no farther! In this book, you’ve got examples from hundreds and hundreds of companies.” - Ted Coiné, author of Five Star Customer Service and Spoil ‘Em Rotten!
  3. 3. The Challenge: How can you Reinforce A Strong Corporate Culture, Improve Employee Engagement + Drive Positive WoM with ONE effort? The Idea: The Simple Premise That Employees Come First And “Happy Employees Create Happy Customers”
  4. 4. (Source: Corporate Leadership Council) A Solution that Sticks Green Goldfish is about Differentiation via Added Value Giving Little Unexpected Extras (GLUE) Drive Employee Engagement and Reinforce a Strong Culture “Engagedorganizationsgrewprofitsasmuchas 3x fasterthantheircompetitors.”
  5. 5. The book is based upon research conducted for the Green Goldfish Project. The Project crowd sourced 1,001 examples of companies that provided signature extras for employees.
  6. 6. Where’s The Happiest Place to Work in America? Google was crowned the "Happiest Company in America." The rankings were based on 100,000+ worker-generated reviews spanning over 10,000 companies. (CareerBliss)
  7. 7. Dropping the Hammer on Why? “My father’s father worked in the Chevy plant in Flint, Michigan. He was an assembly line worker...My Grandpa used to carry an "Alley Oop" hammer – a heavy iron pipe with a hunk of lead melted on the end. The workers made them during the sit-down strikes to protect themselves. When I was growing up, we used that hammer whenever we needed to pound a stake or something into the ground. It is wonderful that most people don’t need to carry a heavy blunt object for protection anymore. But just in case, I have it here." (YouTube) But maybe there’s another reason. Here is a quote from Page's Commencement Address at the U. of Michigan: According to CEO Larry Page, “I believe in a world of abundance, and in that world, many of our employees don’t have to work, they’re pretty wealthy and they could probably go years without working. Why are they working? They’re working because they like doing something, they believe in what they’re doing.” (NY Times)
  8. 8. Houston, We Have a Problem 69% of US employees are either "not engaged" or "actively disengaged"   (Source: Gallup)
  9. 9. The Amsterdam Window Canal house windows in Amsterdam are immense. They are a throwback to the modest Calvinist period when subtle expressions of wealth, such as being able to afford to pay the highest window tax, were favored by the rich. While visiting Amsterdam, Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, pointed to windows and asked his friend, “Why so large?” The friend mentioned all the obvious reasons like letting in light and enjoying the view of the canal, but then offered a much more interesting answer... “It keeps the house clean.” It turns out that the bigger your windows, the more glass you have, the more visible your dirt will be - to you and to everyone who visits or passes by. In Vineet's words, “If you can see the dirt, you will be much more likely to get rid of it. A transparent house has a dramatic effect on the culture inside.” (Source: Employees First, Customers Second) Employee First Culture trumps strategy and principles beat rules. The entire premise of Green Goldfish is that employees must come first. Employee experience should be priority Numero Uno. Companies need to empower and create an open environment.
  10. 10. “When I started the agency, my goal was not to be the biggest or to have the best clients. It was simply to become the best agency to work for. I knew if we were the best agency to work for, we would then attract the best people. And that if we retained the best people, the best clients will follow.” - Tom Coyne A Foundation For Retention
  11. 11. Why Green and Why a Goldfish?
  12. 12. Why Green?
  13. 13. Mardi Gras
  14. 14. Mark Twain
  15. 15. Lagniappe ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Meaning - The additional gift or to give more
  16. 16. Now why a Goldfish?
  17. 17. The Goldfish represents something small, but it was directly inspired Kimpton Hotels. A chain of boutique hotels, Kimpton embodies the doing the little something extra. Stay at any of the Kimpton properties and you’ll find: •  free gourmet coffee and fresh fruit in the lobby •  complimentary wine tasting in the afternoon •  pet-friendly accommodations My favorite perk is something a select number of the properties do for guests. Perhaps you are staying at a Kimpton for a few days, and you are getting lonely…
  18. 18. GIVE A LITTLE UNEXPECTED EXTRA Guppy Love Kimpton will give you a pet goldfish for your stay. They call it “Guppy Love.”
  19. 19. Average Goldfish = 3 to 4 inches A goldfish also represents something small. But all goldfish are not created equal. The average is three to four inches (8-10 cm) in length. The world’s largest is …
  20. 20. Nearly 20 inches or 50cm That’s nearly six times larger! How can there be such a huge difference? It turns out the growth of a goldfish is determined by five factors. The growth of your business is affected by these same five things.
  21. 21. 1 WHAT’S THE SIZE OF THE BOWL IN BUSINESS? = _____ 1. The size of the bowl or pond will determine how big a goldfish with grow. The bigger the pond or bowl, the more a goldfish can grow
  23. 23. 1 2 2. The number of other goldfish in the bowl will also impact the growth. The more goldfish, the more difficult it is to grow. THE OTHER GOLDFISH IN BUSINESS = ________
  25. 25. NUTRIENTS / CLARITY OF THE WATER IN BUSINESS = ____ 3. The nutrients in the water and clarity of the water will also determine how large the goldfish will grow.
  27. 27. 4 24. The first 120 days of a goldfish life will be a factor on its growth. The better the start, the bigger it can get. = _______ FIRST 120 DAYS OF LIFE IN BUSINESS
  29. 29. 2 5. The genetic makeup of a goldfish will also determine how big it will grow. The more it stand outs, the better. = _______ WHAT’S GENETIC MAKE-UP IN BUSINESS
  31. 31. Five Factors #1. MARKET #2. COMPETITION #3. ECONOMY #4. FIRST 120 DAYS #5. DIFFERENTIATION Assuming you’ve already been in business for four months, what’s the only thing you have control over?
  32. 32. Five Factors #1. MARKET #2. COMPETITION #3. ECONOMY #4. FIRST 120 DAYS #5. DIFFERENTIATION The only thing you can have control over is how you differentiate yourself. The little things you do to stand out in a sea of sameness?
  33. 33. 1. Recruiting, 2. Onboarding, 3. F&B 4. Shelter, 5. Wellness, 6. Time Away, and 7. Modern Family 8. Team Building, 9. Retirement, 10. Attaboys and Attagirls, 11. Flexibility, and 12. Transparency 13. Training, 14. Paying it Forward, and 15. Empowerment { { { BASICS BELONGING BUILDING BEYOND DOLLARS, HERE ARE 15 WAYS TO DRIVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
  34. 34. 1. Recruiting ! FBNA is an acronym for "Free Beer, No A--holes." It is the pseudo tagline for marketing agency Ryan Partnership and an unofficial mantra for many others. Some like the Australian software company Atlassian make it a hiring requirement. The company has a recipe for selecting potential hires called the “beer test” according to co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, “I ask myself would I find it interesting to have a beer with this job applicant?” Finding the right fit(s) for your organization
  35. 35. 2. Onboarding ! "The way you manage the transition of somebody into your culture speaks volumes about the culture to the person coming in” Asana (#143) minimizes chores for new hires. They set up their desk / computer in advance and provide $10K for further customization. Research shows that employees make the critical decision to stay or leave within the first six months
  36. 36. 3. Food & Beverage SAS Institute (#437) – “You have two choices. You can spend money on employees or headhunters and training, and it's about the same amount of money. So why not spend it on the employees?" - SAS Institute Founder Dr. James Goodnight Little things like F+B can make a big difference. Even silly things like M&M’S
  37. 37. 4. Shelter ! Tip: Kitchens are Key (#64) has an open office environment. The design of the workplace and where people are situated will influence collaboration and engagement
  38. 38. 5. Wellness Reebok (#4) - This benefit reinforces the company’s new mission: to get consumers moving. Participants at HQ lost over 4,000 pounds collectively during its first year. Without health, we have nothing. More than health, wellness is about enhancing productivity
  39. 39. 6. Time Away Full Contact API (#19) - "One, you actually have to take a vacation to get the money (a full week gets a payout of $7,500). Two, you have to disconnect from work, so that means no calls, no emails, no tweets and no work of any kind." Time off is not only valued by employees, it’s regenerative. Like aspirin, it only works if you take it.
  40. 40. 7. Modern Family ! Aetna Life & Casualty Co. (#68) reduced resignations of new mothers by 50 percent by extending its unpaid parental leave policy to six months, saving the company one million dollars a year in training, recruiting and hiring expenses. Families have changed. Today’s employers needs to deal with modern issues such as same-sex spouses, infertility, adoption, parental leave, day care, and eldercare
  41. 41. Snagajob (#62), the Culture Squad organizes the annual Office Olympics, during which employees [Snaggers] are divided into competing nations—and dress the part. 8. Team Building ! A team that plays together, stays together
  42. 42. Google (#40) - Should a U.S. Googler pass away while under the employ of the search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. 9. Retirement! Going the extra mile to prepare and take care of employees for life after work
  43. 43. “YOU MATTER. These two words can change your mood, change your mind, and have the power to change lives and the world if we understand and leverage them in the right way.” (Source: Angela Maiers, TED Talk June 2011) 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement. (Source: Towers Watson) 10. Attaboys & Attagirls ! Recognition fuels performance
  44. 44. Campbell Soup (#21) - Doug Conant wrote 30,000 handwritten notes during his 10 year tenure as CEO at Campbell’s. A recent study reported that Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that the most meaningful recognition was free. Just look at some of these quotes to judge the impact: “I received a hand written thank you in the mail from my manager and my CEO. I smiled like an idiot." - Bill A. "I got a bonus with a handwritten note. I read the note several times; even took a picture of it. Bonus was good, too but no picture." - David H. Take Note: The Best Things in Life are Free !
  45. 45. BEST BUY (#13) - The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours. The program aims to weed out "presenteeism": employees warming their chairs all day but not getting much done. There are no schedules, no mandatory meetings. [R.I.P. - Hubert Joly abolished ROWE at Best Buy on 3/4/13] 11. Flexibility No longer an extra, flexibility is an expectation
  46. 46. 12. Transparency Atlassian (#47) embraces transparency wherever at all practical, and sometimes where impractical. All information, both internal and external, is public by default. Of seventy-five possible drivers of engagement the ONE that was rated as the most important was the extent to which employees believed that their senior management had a sincere interest in their well‐being. Rule #1 of 5 Core Values: Open Company, No Bullsh*t In the words of Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
  47. 47. STAT: 75% of people voluntarily leaving jobs don't quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. (Source: Roger Herman) Evernote #83 - Lessons from a Trident nuclear submarine. As an officer, you have to know how to do everyone else’s job. At Evernote, employees can opt to be part of officer training. They then get scheduled into 1 or 2 meetings a week to learn about different parts of the company. 13. Training Investing the development of your team
  48. 48. Hewlett Packard (#52) empowers employees to make a difference and give back. Let's do the math: 4 hours per month x 300,000 employees = 1,200,000 hours of HP social impact. 14. Paying it Forward ! Giving back reinforces a sense of purpose
  49. 49. 15. Empowerment ! 3M (#53) launched the 15 percent program in 1948. After forty plus years in the red taught 3M a key lesson: Innovate or Die, an ethos the company has carried dutifully into the 21st century. Tapping into the creativity of your team powers innovation
  50. 50. Don’t Think Trojan Horse Here is a great analysis by Peter Fryar on the concept of Trojan Mice [Goldfish]: Much change is of the “Trojan horse” variety. The planned changes are presented at a grand event (the Trojan Horse) amid much loud music, bright lights and dry ice. More often than not, however, a few weeks later the organization will have settled back into its usual ways and rejected much of the change. This is usually because the change was too great to be properly understood and owned by the workforce. Trojan mice [Green Goldfish], on the other hand, are small, well focused changes, which are introduced on an ongoing basis in an inconspicuous way. They are small enough to be understood and owned by all concerned but their effects can be far- reaching. Collectively a few Trojan mice [Green Goldfish] will change more than one Trojan horse ever could. Start Small