Lessons from the Tank: Can Your Employees Be the Next Scrub Daddy?
One of the most popular and interesting reality TV shows today is Shark Tank. For over ten years, it has been the show where wealthy, mostly self-made, business professionals help a small business owner achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. There have been many successful products introduced to the consumer market after appearing on Shark Tank. Take the Scrub Daddy®, for example. The concept is simple (a smiley-faced, reusable sponge in which the texture and function change with water temperature), but it has sold over 10 million units, and the growth continues.
To date, the Scrub Daddy® is one of the most successful products to ever appear on the show. But where would Scrub Daddy be today if it wasn’t for the investment from one of the Sharks, Lori Greiner? According to Forbes, before Scrub Daddy was introduced on Shark Tank, it struggled to make $100,000 in over 18 months. Scrub Daddy has now made over $75 million in sales thanks to a $200,000 investment from Lori Greiner, including her time and considerable marketing muscle. Since then, Scrub Daddy has dramatically expanded its facilities and released several new products.
As business leaders, we talk a lot about investing in our people, especially in this age of low retention and high turnover. So, what happens when we invest in our employees (time and dollars) the same way the Sharks invest in these companies?
We continue to see several recurring trends in today’s job market. For instance, a steady paycheck, bonus, and PTO are no longer enough to satisfy employees. Employees want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than just an office job, and something bigger than themselves. The feeling that they are a part of a team that values them as an individual and respects their ideas. They want someone to invest in them.
As the Millennial and Gen Z generations continue to make their imprint on today’s workforce, the “job for life” mentality of their parents and grandparents is becoming non-existent. The younger generations are focused on the concept of belonging to a team that creates value, not merely working for a paycheck. When employees don’t feel challenged, or fully engaged in the work they are doing, employee turnover rates skyrocket.
As Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Group, has popularly stated, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” The discussions around employee engagement have become so prevalent in recent years that you would think it’s second nature by now. It is also no coincidence that in study after study, increasing employee engagement is now the top priority of most CEOs. After all, research proves that investing in the talents and capabilities of your employees is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to increase employee engagement and instill loyalty.
The same holds for the investors on Shark Tank. For example, when you look at something as simple as a sponge, you might not see much potential return. However, when you add a little ingenuity, time, and care, you can produce a multi-million-dollar product line. It is the same with your employees. Invest in them, and they will invest their time, energy, and passion back into the company and produce a higher return.
When sourcing and interviewing for a new hire, you are putting the candidate in “The Tank.” The investors are Human Resources, Supervising Manager, Project Leader, and the Owner/CEO. The candidate’s resume is their pitch outline, showing a base overview of their strengths, skills, past experiences, and successes. Throughout the interview process, the candidate will begin showing you their behaviors and talk a little more in-depth about their past and what they aspire to in the future. Based on this pitch, the investor can decide if they want to invest in the candidate or keep looking for a “million-dollar candidate.” Investing in your employees also doesn’t have to be a Shark Tank-sized investment.
In a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the results showed that the top qualities that Millennials look for in a job are opportunities for career advancement and learning and development programs. With that in mind, employee engagement can be as simple as having an immersive and detailed onboarding program for new hires and continual training for existing employees. In a study conducted by Axonify, they noted that only 31% of employees receive formal job training. As Carol Leaman, the CEO of Axonify, states, “If employees don’t have the correct training to perform their jobs properly, they will disengage. This, in turn, will result in work quality, productivity, and customer satisfaction issues.”
In the same study, 80% of workers state that it is vital to receive regular, frequent training, so they don’t forget the information, up from 73% in the previous year alone. “Training should not be a dull, isolated event, as employees loathe sitting in long, boring sessions and immediately tune out,” added Leaman. The one thing that all generations in today’s workforce can agree on is that people want training anywhere and at any time, but keep it short and offer rewards upon completion.
Yes, more PTO and “fun stuff” are great additions to your workplace and may attract employees to apply, but to get them to stay and produce meaningful outcomes takes more. Views of work continue to evolve. The number of positions, and companies that a person will work for in their lifetime, is increasing. Investing in the capabilities of your employees by providing experiences, and creating mobility, ensures that they are building a lifelong career, not just a pit-stop for some experience before they move on to bigger and better things.
Move towards being bigger and be better by investing in your employees to increase retention the same way Lori Greiner invested in the Scrub Daddy: provide them the resources, time, and support they need to achieve their dreams. Like the Scrub Daddy, they will, in turn, be flexible, grow and provide you a high rate of return.