Why We Focus on Feedback to Enhance the Employee Experience

Every year, Bliss conducts an independent client feedback survey to better understand how we are adding value and identify opportunities to improve. It’s a vital reflection point that helps us align and refine our work to focus on the KPIs that matter most to a client’s business.  

I’ve always been proud that we are – as my colleague Ben Davis said recently – an ambitious agency. We are never satisfied to repeat what we did last year, let alone last month or even last week. You can only be cutting-edge with something one time. So, we strive to always show up smarter, more creative and more impactful than we’ve been before. Listening to feedback of all kinds is essential to being that kind of agency – even and perhaps especially – when it challenges assumptions.  

Recently, we added a new mission critical feedback initiative – an employee engagement survey – to check our hypotheses and see how our values and goals are translating across our team. The anonymous survey was completed by nearly all of our growing team and in addition to the quantitative responses we received nearly 200 comments that provided creative ideas, context and areas of opportunity.  

Here’s what we learned about the culture we are building together. 

eNPS = Best in Class 

Nine out of 10 professionals said they would recommend Bliss as a workplace to a colleague or friend, and our employee net promoter score is 85. For context, experts generally agree anything above a 30-40 eNPS is good, but above an 80 is considered best in class.  

We’re extremely proud of this headline and consensus, but as Ben said, we’re ambitious and think we can do even better.  

Here’s what else I’m personally proud of: Employee net promoter scores may be a mainstay of large multinational companies, but precious few independently owned agencies track or hold themselves accountable to this KPI. We don’t just say we care about our team; we measure and hold ourselves accountable to their satisfaction.  

Action item: Benchmark and beat it in 2024! Here are the steps we are already taking. 

Invest in Relationships 

Our survey results echo the importance of trusting relationships with supervisors, leadership and teams. We found that 87% of our team had a trusting and supportive relationship with their supervisor, which is critical to coaching, feedback, career development, engagement and loyalty. But rather than take the win, we immediately started problem solving for the few individuals who were not sure they had the right supervisor for their goals, and we made adjustments.  

In addition, among the nearly 200 comments added to the survey, a plurality of them had a common theme: can we have more opportunities to connect and bond with our colleagues?  

I want to take a moment to reflect on that because it was a clear call to action but also a proof point. In any workplace, you’re paid to be there. It’s a transaction at the core, but when you bring together smart and kind people something special can happen. Relationships are built above and beyond the transaction, trust is established, bonds and even real friendships are formed. That’s why I see pictures of our team at each other’s weddings, meeting up with their dogs, and celebrating new apartments and other milestones. It’s why team shoutouts are a mainstay of our Monday morning staff meetings and weekly Practice e-newsletters – because we are genuinely interested in cheering on and supporting each other. Our clients feel that chemistry too, and it pays off in every aspect of our work.  

Action item: Promote and create more opportunities for connection and building community – inside and outside our walls.  

Transparency Builds Leaders 

Most of our colleagues report that they understand how their role contributes to the firm’s success and they have access to senior leaders. But when we dug into the comments, we saw an opportunity for even more communication and transparency around how decisions get made, how the business works and runs, and a desire to stay on the pulse of our leaders’ priorities.  

Once again, I see a win in addition to actionable feedback. Our team is engaged and thinking like owners. Professionals are eligible for up to 10-20% (based on title) annual discretionary bonuses based on individual and company performance, and we are all thinking about the bottom line. Teams want to know the “why” or the “why not” behind our vision and strategy. Bliss has been in a high growth mode, particularly over the past two years, and that means we’re moving and innovating quickly. So, we’re making some updates to our communications channels and processes to increase frequency of “state of the business” updates from our executive leadership team and a monthly informal newsletter from our CEO Cortney Stapleton with what’s on her mind.  

One thing that often surprises folks who come from other agencies is how transparent we are with our financials. We’ve always dedicated time at our company offsites to diving deep into our key financial metrics so that our team can see and share in our successes and where we want to go. We’re bumping that communication to quarterly with a focus on how our strategy is playing out, the trends we are seeing with clients and prospects and how every member of the team can help us win and grow.  

Action item: Bolster internal communications, consistently “showing our work” for key decisions and continuing open door policy on state of the business. 

Chasing Excellence 

Overall, our team’s feedback gave us a roadmap for quick wins, meaningful enhancements and creative long-term ideas. We are immensely grateful to our team for their contributions every day, but also for the care and time they took to provide the candid anonymous feedback that will help make us better.  

We will never be perfect, or for everyone. The lifelong people pleaser in me still has a hard time accepting that, but no organization can achieve that.  

But excellence as we define it for our clients and our firm is not about perfection or even success. As our Head of Account Excellence Alexis Odesser shares, you can have success with mediocre inputs, and you can fail even with the best idea. We strive for excellence because it’s about being a little better today than we were yesterday. About being ambitious and never settling.  

Excellence means asking for feedback and truly listening and acting on what we hear. We intend to keep listening and keep chasing what it means to truly be best in class – a category that can and should get harder to reach every single year.  

Keri Toomey, Head of Employee Experience