Dr. Pelè: (00:04)
Hello everyone. This is Dr. Pele, with the WorkProud podcast, and it is my pleasure today to introduce you to Dr. Rick Garlick. Now, Dr. Rick, I’m so excited for this conversation because you are a thought leader, an expert in the field of both customer and employee motivation. It’s an interesting way of sort of straddling both things, but your whole research and the work that you’ve done shows that there are powerful ways to motivate customers and to motivate employees, and you’ve wrapped it all up in your research. We want to learn all about it. How are you doing today? Dr. Rick?
Dr. Rick: (00:41)
I could not be better. It is a pleasure to be with you. I love your energy. And this is our first collaboration of this type and I hope it will not be our last. I hope it’ll be the first of many.
Dr. Pelè: (00:52)
Absolutely and it will not be our last. In fact, our first collaboration was with Dr. Bob Nelson and was within the context of WorkProud. Something that our CEO, Michael Leavy sponsored the WorkProud study, so I’m hoping you could talk about that, but before we go into any of that stuff, can you tell us what exactly is the problem in the world when it comes to organizations trying to motivate companies or customers, or trying to motivate employees? What’s the sticky glue that makes all of this one problem? What is the problem?
Dr. Rick: (01:25)
Well, I can tell you my perspective and I’ll try to make it short. I think most people out there if you talk to them, will say that the state of customer service has not improved despite the fact that millions and billions of dollars are being spent to try to address and enhance the customer experience. Many people will also say the same thing about the employee experience, that all these employee engagement studies you see a tick up here, a tick up there, but are people really happier at work today or more engaged than they were when we started this process say 20, 30 years ago of really looking at this area? So, that’s the problem. And for each of us, I mean I love the fact that you focus so much on positive energy, and how I really became interested in this area is I began my professional career as a college professor. I thought Dr. Pele, I thought I had the most important job in the world.
Dr. Pelè: (02:21)
Dr. Rick: (02:21)
Educating young minds. In addition to the, I ran our departmental internship program. And so, I placed students in their first professional experiences and I felt very proud of what I did because I felt like I was really, really making a difference. Now I got kind of tired of the university politics, and I went to my first, what I would call outside non-academic professional job. And I started off at the Gallup organization. It’s a famous company that’s done a lot of work in employee engagement and talent selection. I was there at the very beginning stages when they were beginning to develop the employee engagement tools. I worked on some of the early psychometric work of the strength finder tool. I loved the work that I did in the employee space because I felt that what I was doing was really, really important.
Dr. Rick: (03:13)
Dr. Don Clifton, who the StrengthFinder is named after, often talked about the research he had done, where he literally linked all of society’s problems back to a single factor. You know, he basically tied everything back to one thing, and that one thing has work dissatisfaction. So, he basically talked about the fact that domestic violence, substance abuse, sickness, all these things can really be linked back to the fact if we’re unhappy in our jobs.
Dr. Pelè: (03:41)
Dr. Rick: (03:41)
And if you think about the fact that this is where we spend most of our waking hours, if you’re in a situation where you’re not using your talents, you’re not happy, then you can see where it spills over into your personal life. So the idea being, that if we can improve the employee experience, we can also then improve people’s family life.
Dr. Pelè: (03:59)
Dr. Rick: (04:00)
If we improve family lives, we can improve communities. And ultimately, we can improve the world by doing one thing and that’s by improving the employee experience. So when I heard that, I was very proud of what I did, right?
Dr. Pelè: (04:12)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I have to say that when you were sharing some of your background with me, you said something that really just set off a light bulb for me. And that is, you brought all of these problems, the problems of the customer experience, and the employee experience, all under one umbrella and you call it the need for irrational commitment. I just think that that right there is so powerful. Can you tell us when you talk about the problem, how does irrational commitment solve the problem of the customer experience and the employee experience?
Dr. Rick: (04:49)
Well, one of the things that’s interesting is I think all of us like to think of ourselves as rational beings. In reality, that’s not true. Neuroscience research shows that we are driven primarily by the prefrontal takes of our brain, which is the emotional center. That we make our decisions about the choices we make, the products, we buy, the services we purchase all those things are really driven by more of an emotional factor rather than a rational factor. Now we use the rational part of our brains to support the emotional decisions that we make, but really when it comes down to it think about products that you would never consider for any reason giving up. These could be things like I always like to use the example of Starbucks coffee. That I had friends, colleagues who would be late to meetings because they had to stop and get their Starbucks. When you go to an air… Do you have Starbucks in there?
Dr. Pelè: (05:41)
Dr. Rick: (05:46)
But, I was going to say, when you go to airports, think about the fact that all the waiting in line that you have to do, and yet, people still voluntarily stand in these long lines to get their Starbucks coffee despite the fact that independent taste tests show that people prefer Dunkin’ Donuts coffee by a two to one margin in blind taste tests. Now again, we don’t want to spend all our time talking about coffee, but that’s an example of what we call irrational commitment. There are some brands that we can’t give up. We will pay more money for a brand, even though it may not be any different than a competitor brand, or a generic brand.
Dr. Rick: (06:23)
For example, salt. Morton Salt in the store, the girl with the blue label and the umbrella, that salt is the exact salt as your generic Great Value, Walmart salt sitting right next to it, but you will pay pennies more for the Morton brand because it’s Morton, and you have an irrational commitment to that brand. When we think about our work experiences, it’s very similar. There are situations where people, even if they were offered significantly more money to do the same job at a different company, would still choose to stay where they are. Now, why is that? We’re going to talk about that when we talk about the concept of pride in one’s work and pride in one’s company. I think maybe that’s a good transition to our next topic.
Dr. Pelè: (07:05)
Yeah. No, I have to say that I just so admire your use of what works in terms of psychology in the outside world, meaning with customers, as being equivalent to what works in the inside of a company with individual employees. I mean you bring up topics like branding such as like this is my Apple iPhone. I’m probably paying too much for this. I bet you some Google phone or some other phone is going to do the same thing, but it’s Apple, right?
Dr. Rick: (07:35)
Yeah, exactly right. I love your example. So, on the topic of irrational commitment, can you take us a little bit deeper into how pride in one’s work actually is part of that equation? How does that work?
Dr. Rick: (07:52)
There’s two components to the concept that we study. One is pride in one’s work and pride in one’s comp. When you think about what drives pride in the work you do, it’s a sense that you’re doing something bigger than just simply selling widgets, or as I used to like to say, making wealthy companies wealthier, but you’re actually supporting work that makes a positive difference in change in people’s lives. In our study when we asked people, what was a time when you were particularly proud of your work, people talked a lot about a time when they were able to help a customer, or solve a problem, or do something that nobody else seemed to be able to solve, or they got the satisfaction of being able to help someone achieve something that nobody else could help them achieve. That’s pride in one’s work.
Dr. Rick: (08:42)
It’s the feeling that I’m doing something that’s important. I’m doing something that plays to my talents, my strengths, and gives me a unique position in my work world that I’m able to contribute something that others may not be able to contribute as well as I can. Now, pride in the company is also something really interesting because it ties into a lot of the issues that we’re hearing talked about in the work world today. Things like corporate social responsibility, diversity inclusion, the importance of being aligned with the company’s values. These are all things that foster and facilitate pride in one’s company. That is, I feel good about the place I work. For example, if your place of employment was a person, would they be someone you’d want to hang out with?
Dr. Pelè: (09:29)
Dr. Rick: (09:29)
Would they share your values? Would they would you feel align? Would you feel like in sync that this is a place that you can really support working and promoting? You become a brand champion that is you not only recommend this company as a place to friends and family as a place to work, but then you’d also recommend its products and services to other people because you feel good about that company. Now, when people have high Morton in their company, we see that they’re very resistant to moving and leaving. For example, people who had high pride in our study, almost half 48% strongly agreed with the statement that if offered a significantly greater amount of money to go somewhere else and do the same work, they would positively stay put. Now, if you monetize that, that’s a lot of money.
Dr. Pelè: (10:18)
Dr. Rick: (10:19)
Certainly now in today’s world, where we talk about the challenge of attracting talent to come to work, if people are proud of where they work and they feel like they’re doing something meaningful, then you’re able to basically retain those people, attract those people, get them to recommend people. When you monetize that, that is some serious money that companies can make.
Dr. Pelè: (10:42)
Dr. Rick: (10:42)
And so, that’s why the most successful companies do what you and I are talking about and reward and recognition plays a big part in that. Not just how we reward individual employees, but even company recognition. The value of being one of the best places to, work or getting recognized as being a top culture, as a performance culture for which to work with your company. I see people posting on LinkedIn the pride that they have when their company was given this type of recognition, and this is where I work, and everybody coming up and saying, “Where can I get a job like yours at your company?”
Dr. Pelè: (11:19)
Dr. Rick: (11:20)
Again, we could break it down and monetize that, but I mean people can probably do that for themselves who are listening to podcasts.
Dr. Pelè: (11:26)
Yeah. Well, this is for me like a masterclass in this powerful topic of engaging customers or engaging employees. I love how you’ve made several links. I’m just going to see if I can follow your thinking here so you can expand on it. You started us out by saying hey guys, it might not just be about the way people think. Motivation comes mostly from the way people feel. And so, how do you get people to feel emotions that can drive them toward desired action? You’ve identified in your research pride as a specific kind of emotion that hasn’t been studied very much but really does deliver the bang for the buck. On that note, let’s go deeper into pride. You’ve talked about two types of pride, right? You’ve talked the pride one has in their work and the pride one has in their company. Tell us a little bit about how pride, and engagement, and recognition, and all these things fit together to create results.
Dr. Rick: (12:25)
Okay, so let’s presume that you hire people, and then this is a major assumption, right? That you hire people who already have a sense of a responsibility. That’s really where people come into, we assume people come into the workplace with a certain amount of pride in what they do. Now again, there are always those people who get hired who could probably care less, who are just there to collect a paycheck but let’s assume that our hiring process is good, and we hire people that are truly proud of what they do. Having strong pride in the work, that influences things like job satisfaction, the desire to come to work every day, to look forward to coming to work, all those sorts of things, discretionary effort that I might put out.
Dr. Pelè: (13:06)
Going the extra mile, as you said.
Dr. Rick: (13:08)
Going the extra mile, all those things. Now, if I’ve got pride in my work, I can basically take that pride anywhere because it’s portable. Right? So, if I’m working for you, or I’m working for somebody else, I still have that sense of pride in what I do, but where pride in the company becomes important is it provides that stickiness that keeps me working for you and contributing to your organization. So that, and at Gallop, we used to quote the statistic, and I don’t know where they came up with this, but it sounds right, and nobody’s argued with it, that basically, the cost of replacing an employee is one and a half times an employee’s first-year salary. Now I think there’d be a lot of variability in that depending on the job that you have, but it sounds like a reasonable number when you think about the fact that you’ve got a lot of recruitment costs, and training, and just even lost productivity as you’re ramping up to speed, and not to mention all the tribal knowledge that you take when you leave an organization.
Dr. Rick: (14:05)
That’s where the two really come together. Now recognition, as I mentioned, that’s the jet fuel behind pride. So and again, we can be recognized any number of ways. Some people like to be put on a public stage, probably you and I, that’s how we like to be recognized. We like to be on a public platform. There are other people that that’s the worst thing you can do for them.
Dr. Pelè: (14:28)
Dr. Rick: (14:28)
You know, they don’t like the attention. They’d rather be thanked by their coworkers. They’d rather perhaps get some recognition privately. That’s really the work that I do, I’m also the chief research advisor for the Incentive Research Foundation. A lot of the work that we do attempts to understand how individuals like to be recognized so that you can maximize recognition and incentive systems, reward systems. There’s a nuance there, but let’s say this, that any kind of recognition is better than no recognition, and the more that you can fine-tune that recognition, and reward structure to people’s preferences, and their personalities, the more effective it’s going to be in driving that sense of pride.
Dr. Pelè: (15:11)
Dr. Rick: (15:11)
That’s really, in a nutshell, my elevator speech, how that all works together.
Dr. Pelè: (15:16)
Yeah. You know, you are currently the vice president of strategy and consulting at Magid and you know, of course, with your background at the Gallup organization, you’re literally an authority on this topic. I wonder what your perspective is on this particular topic. All of us have heard the research about engagement. Oh, 70% are not engaged. All of that stuff. And then more recently, all of us have now heard that recognition is a powerful way to motivate and push engagement forward. Right. And now, you’re leading research that is showing that pride is another focus that we can have. CEOs are wondering okay, well fine, I got it. How do I do it? But you’re saying help people feel both work pride and company pride, and you’re going to be pushing really hard toward engagement, and add recognition, and you’ve got the jet fuel to it.
Dr. Rick: (16:12)
Yep. That’s in a nutshell.
Dr. Pelè: (16:14)
That’s it in a nutshell. Okay, but I have a question because a lot of people, and I’m going, to be honest, a lot of people can’t see the link between all of these soft things that we’re trying to do soft, right, with humans and business outcomes. How would you explain to a leader listening to this podcast, the link between promoting pride, promoting recognition, these human soft things, these emotional things, and dollars and cents at the gate, at the door? How do you do that? How do you help people understand that?
Dr. Rick: (16:46)
Well again, there’s been a zillion books written on this, so let me just give you again, the nutshell version. We talked about some of them. We talked about the power in attracting and retaining employees. There’s some statistics out there. I’ve heard different stats, so I won’t quote any because there’s probably different versions of this, of what a best place to work award does in terms of attracting talent, a larger, and more diverse talent pool. We’ve talked about the dollars and cents that are involved with retaining employees. There’s been for a long time that whole concept of the service profit chain, which I will on this podcast maybe restate instead of saying happy employees lead to happy customers, maybe proud employees lead to proud customers
Dr. Pelè: (17:32)
I like that.
Dr. Rick: (17:32)
How about that? That’s a way of kind of rephrasing that because again, what you really want is you want people to have that sense of spin. Now it’s interesting because again, proud customers will wear logoed merchandise with the brand on it. You know, you think about how places like Hard Rock Cafe and Harley Davidson, they basically have their customers paid to do their advertising for them in the form of logoed merchandise, and shirts, and bags, and all that sort of thing. And you know, I’ve done some presentations. I’ll have to show you sometime, where people actually have brands logoed in tattoos on their bodies. Now that’s the extreme of irrational commitment.
Dr. Pelè: (18:14)
Dr. Rick: (18:14)
That’s irrational commitment, right. That’s at its highest. When we think about the customer-employee relationship, when we think about things like loss work time, absenteeism, all those sorts of things that we can quantify, and back to some of these, as you put it, softer metrics that we measured. I’ve done these studies, and I’ll tell you there’s definitely a link and there’s a lot of good companies out there that are doing this kind of work. Gallup being one of them, but there’s a lot of other companies that specialize in employee engagement, employee experience that do the same kind of work and are definitely worth looking into if you want to quantify those kind of outcomes.
Dr. Pelè: (18:54)
Dr. Rick: (18:54)
That’s certainly something that we can do. I love to do that with companies.
Dr. Pelè: (18:58)
Yeah. You know, there’s one topic that’s been really important in the news today. Obviously, we are dare I say, we’re entering the post-pandemic era, hopefully, fingers crossed, but there’s a topic really around remote work and flexible work arrangements. There are CEOs out there who probably feel like hey, wait a second, get everybody in the same room. That’s how we’ve always done it. And some are just accepting that sometimes people will have to stay out of the office, and that’s what inherited from this experience. What does the research say about whether you can promote a culture of excellence or of pride regardless of location, whether people are remote or not? What does the research say on that?
Dr. Rick: (19:43)
Well, I can tell you what our research showed and that was that it makes no difference in terms of the pride one has in one’s work, whether they’re remote or whether they’re onsite. No difference. What’s interesting is that statistically, there’s no difference between company pride of people who work remotely and onsite, except directionally. This is not large enough to cause statistically significant, but directionally, the data actually favors higher pride on people that work remotely.
Dr. Pelè: (20:13)
Dr. Rick: (20:14)
So, again, it’s not statistically significant. And if we did the study 10 times, would it come out the same? But, we certainly can say at least we’re seeing no differences. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say we’ve always done it this way. There are people who have had a very, very strong belief that unless you’re going to an office, that you cannot assimilate or be part of the company culture. You know, think about it. I’m sure millennials and gen Z-ers who can be sitting across the table from you texting, or instant messaging, who have become so technology reliant that I think that despite whether there’s a pandemic or not, those folks would’ve learned how to completely substitute technology for a face-to-face experience within due time anyway.
Dr. Rick: (21:02)
The pandemic just accelerated it, and people are liking the fact that they’ve got more productive time, that they can sleep in maybe a little longer. They don’t have to pay for gas and parking when they drive to the office. All these things and it’s higher productivity. The time that I could spend working, instead I’m spending in the car, or I’m commuting, or spending my money trying to find a parking spot, this sort of thing.
Dr. Pelè: (21:25)
Dr. Rick: (21:26)
People are finding okay, this makes business sense. And so, the pandemic I think has accelerated or introduces us to something. And not only that but think about it from a talent attraction perspective, I’ve had certain companies try to woo me into positions that I’ve turned down, frankly, because I didn’t want to move.
Dr. Pelè: (21:44)
Dr. Rick: (21:44)
I didn’t want to uproot myself.
Dr. Pelè: (21:45)
Yeah, but now you don’t have to.
Dr. Rick: (21:47)
Now I don’t have to.
Dr. Pelè: (21:48)
Dr. Rick: (21:48)
And the thing is, it’s like people believed that you had to be in that office and now we’re proving that you don’t, and that’s going to open up the talent pool really far and wide. And particularly at a time when people are really challenged to replace people that they might have laid off in the pandemic, and ramp up to speed. I just think it’s all good. And again, our data is very supportive of that. I haven’t seen personally, I’m not saying there isn’t one. I have personally not seen a study that shows that being in an office makes people more productive or more engaged than working remotely. There might be one, but I’ve not seen it.
Dr. Pelè: (22:25)
Yeah. You know and I love your analogy of the millennials or the new generation folks who have found ways to replace the traditional methods of culture-building through technology. I like to talk about the water cooler opportunities. You to get some water, or you go into the men’s room or the ladies’ room, and you bump into someone, and you have a real conversation that changes the business and creates business success. And now the question is how do we use tools and digital experiences to either replicate or replace those water cooler moments?
Dr. Rick: (23:02)
Well, you can have that same kind of water cooler experience working remotely through technology. For example, a company that has done it really, really well for some time Sabre Holdings. Basically, the company that does all the travel bookings, and manage all the travel experiences, and they had something they called Sabre Town, which I saw a presentation on a number of years ago where they had a sheriff of Sabre Town and mayor of Sabre Town, and basically it was this virtual community that they developed. And then they started selling it to other companies as a model for how to create that kind of virtual community.
Dr. Pelè: (23:41)
Dr. Rick: (23:41)
There’s a lot of smart thinkers out there, Dr. Pele, who can easily figure this out. And you know, it’s not rocket science.
Dr. Pelè: (23:48)
Dr. Rick: (23:49)
It’s just that people are resistant because it’s not the way they’ve done it before and you know, we know how that goes, right?
Dr. Pelè: (23:54)
Yeah. Well, we’ll see change probably when companies start to say hey, wait a second. I’m saving money on building space.
Dr. Rick: (24:01)
Oh yeah. They’ve already recognized that.
Dr. Pelè: (24:02)
Let’s move that away from… They can see that. All right.
Dr. Rick: (24:07)
Well, that’s another savings, right?
Dr. Pelè: (24:08)
That’s another savings. Dr. Rick, I would love to ask you what you’re most excited about right now. Are you working on any special projects? Are you doing something we should hear about and how do people get a hold of you to go connect with you online?
Dr. Rick: (24:24)
Well, I’m always is working on all kinds of exciting things, so it’s harder to say one thing, but I’ll say this. I’m most excited about the work that I’m doing with you, and Michael, and Dr. Bob, because I think that we’ve got something interesting here that like you say, has not been particularly over-researched up to this point. I think that we’ve got a new paradigm that once we’re able to start connecting with actual dollars and outcomes, which I have no question we are able to do, I think it’s going to open up a new way of thinking about engagement, and making people proud of their work, and their companies, and tying rewards, and incentives. I’m very, very excited about all of that. I think whenever we start developing systems and I know that this capability exists, where we can link customer feedback directly to employee feedback so that I’m an employee and I made a customer particularly happy on a particular day with the work that I did, that I can find a channel through technology that can get that back to in me and make me feel good about what I’ve done.
Dr. Pelè: (25:29)
Dr. Rick: (25:29)
I think when we start integrating the customer piece, the employee piece, the reward, and recognition piece in an online system, it’s going to be powerful.
Dr. Pelè: (25:37)
Dr. Rick: (25:37)
I think you, and I, and others have the opportunity, and Michael, have the opportunity to be on the ground floor of this. And so, I’m very excited about that.
Dr. Pelè: (25:47)
Do you want to know something? You’ve just come up with a paradigm. See, I’m picturing a bubble in the middle, an arm over here that’s customer pride, and an arm over here, that’s employee pride, and you’re saying basically the link between the two is another paradigm that really can be exploited for benefit for companies.
Dr. Rick: (26:06)
Yeah, absolutely. And again, people want to… People always want to buy from companies with whom they share common values.
Dr. Pelè: (26:14)
Dr. Rick: (26:15)
I mean, I want to buy from companies that I feel good about and that I feel like I can identify with. One thing that I used to always talk about in a paradigm I presented was the whole concept of identification. That’s a non-rational piece that leads to the irrational commitment of this is a company for someone like myself. We all know in our own life the companies that we purchase from are extensions of our value system and who we are. When I talk about proud customers, that’s really what I’m referring to. That if we can draw that link between proud employees and proud customers, we can create those strong bonds of irrational commitment that will drive profitability for the companies that do it right, and who really take the time to understand that these emotional paradigms of driving things like pride, and how I feel about my work, and that sort of thing.
Dr. Rick: (27:09)
While softer than just simply asking if I’ve got the tools and materials to do my job correctly, and do I like my boss, and this sort of thing. Not that those are bad things to ask, but I think tapping into the whole concept of pride and the things we have identified in our white paper, I think it’s a formula for success, and I’m very excited, as I know you are, in helping companies achieve that level of success.
Dr. Pelè: (27:33)
Wow. Well, first of all, I want you to know that at the bottom of this particular podcast, we will make this study that you and I have been referring to, which is called the WorkProud Study. I don’t know if you can see that. We will make that available for anyone who wants to download it, but how can people get a hold of you, Dr. Rick, online?
Dr. Rick: (27:51)
Sure. They can just get ahold of me firstname.lastname@example.org or look at the Magid website. Magid is spelled M-A-G-I-D.com.
Dr. Pelè: (28:02)
Dr. Rick: (28:08)
Magid. Not maggot, not magee, none magid. None of those things.
Dr. Pelè: (28:09)
Dr. Rick: (28:11)
And not the glove company either. So, anyway but magid.com or email@example.com. Please, I’d love it, or look me up on LinkedIn. Line in with me. I love having dialogues on this topic and love to find some new companies to work with that we can bring some of the things you and I are talking about to life.
Dr. Pelè: (28:34)
Yeah. And your thought leadership and just passion for your topic is completely contagious and infectious. I really appreciate learning from you. Thank you so much, Dr. Rick, for being on this podcast with us today.
Dr. Rick: (28:46)
Well, Dr. Pele, I’ve often said you’re about the coolest guy I know so it’s a pleasure. It’s a to share the stage with you.
Dr. Pelè: (28:54)
All right. We’ll be in touch. Have a great day.
Dr. Rick: (28:57)
All right. Thank you, sir. Take care.
Dr. Pelè: (28:58)
Dr. Rick: (28:58)
Dr. Pelè: (28:59)
Dr. Rick Garlick has over two decades of employee experience research, beginning with his work at The Gallup Organization in the mid-90s. He has held leadership positions at Maritz CX, J.D. Power, and Magid, a boutique consumer insights and business consulting firm.
Every month, we share news, knowledge, and insight into what we believe is a pretty simple proposition: If you are “proud of your work and proud of your company,” you are more engaged, more productive, and more likely to stay with your company for the long haul.