“Staff engagement” is a hot topic and there’s lots written about the positive impact it can have on your business. Studies suggest that high levels of staff engagement are linked to improvements in customer ratings, profitability, productivity, safety and quality amongst other things (source here).
Rob met Fabio Suffell of Qbit at a recent event and heard about some of the ways Qbit support and engage their team to deliver excellent service. We persuaded Fabio to share some of the ways they do this as a small business which we summarise at the end of the article – read on to see how Qbit use digital windows and fruit jam (among other things) to support their staff to deliver great service.
Who are Qbit?
Qbit are an IT company with 19 staff and offices in West Perth and Westminster. They’ve grown and adapted their business since 1995 and deliver products and services to businesses across Perth. Their motto is “exceptional service, reliable IT” and when talking with Fabio it’s clear that this drives everything they do.
Digital windows maintain a connected team
Qbit recently moved into premises in West Perth to be closer to many of their clients. But having retained an office in Westminster they wanted to ensure that the whole team stayed connected. So as a progressive IT firm they installed digital “windows” in each of the offices. This way, team members at each site can see into the other office and see if the colleague they need to speak to is at their desk.
Qbit’s web-based meeting system means staff can easily chat face to face (by video) across sites, even if a staff member is working at a client’s site.
And while technology plays an important part in Qbit’s productivity and positive team culture, there are other ingredients too.
Making time to connect
Fabio likes to touch base with all staff every day. “Generally, I’ll make an effort to see all staff first thing in the morning, and then also in the evening. My door is always open and the team know that I’ll always make time to see them. It’s important not to be too busy to talk to people.”
Every day the tech team all get together, from wherever they are in Perth at the time. It’s a quick touchbase to go through the day’s logistics and priorities, as well as an opportunity for the team to connect with each other, and with Fabio.
Celebrating success and achievements with “fruit jam”
Each week, the whole company get together for a team meeting, including their staff member based in the Philippines. As well the general company updates, this meeting is also the place where the “fruit jam” is featured. This is Qbit’s staff recognition program where people are encouraged to nominate themselves when they’ve done a great job in some way. Fabio said, “In reality, people don’t always nominate themselves but we do encourage it. Each quarter, the person with the most nominations is acknowledged with a weekend away in either Margaret River, The Vines, or the Sebel in Busselton – on the company.” (Note for readers – it’s not really “fruit” jam – you can ask Fabio yourself about how they named the program!)
Staff are also acknowledged for generating leads that convert to clients – where this happens, they are thanked with a gift voucher for a store of their choice.
Staff social club
All staff make a weekly contribution to a staff social club and funds are matched by Qbit. Staff decide which events they want each quarter, with the only stipulation from the company being that at least one event per year must be family-friendly. Qbit put on the staff Christmas function each year.
Thinking out loud allowed
As well as social and group activities, an important part of feeling engaged at work is when someone’s job is a great match with their strengths, skills and interests (source here). Fabio shared an example of Cassandra who was taken on to handle client calls coming through reception. With the introduction of Qbit’s own new 3cx phone system, calls started going directly to the tech team. Fabio feels the days of having someone that just answers the phone have gone, while having someone with a bright and bubbly personality there to meet the great people that come into your business is important – and only takes about 10% of the day. So using that person to complete other vital work such as handling the marketing (including the newsletter, Facebook, website and Adwords) is vital to the business’s growth. “Now 90% of Cassandra’s time is spent applying her skills to our marketing and business development. This is a great fit with her skills, while we get to retain a great team member – it’s win, win.”
How do these initiatives impact on the business?
“We get regular feedback from the staff which lets us know how they’re going. And we have one team member who is very direct and would be sure to let us know if we were off track!” laughed Fabio.
Many of the team have been with Qbit for a number of years – including Guy (12 years), Yvonne (10 years) and Matt, Sean and Marc (all around seven years) – which is another positive indicator. “Retaining good staff is important for our customers – it minimises disruption and it means our team can get to know our client’s business,” said Fabio.
Another impact of an engaged and motivated team is the ability to respond to business challenges quickly and efficiently.
Fabio shared how the team had noticed they were spending a long time trying to track down customers after they’d called the office, which meant they were spending an average of two hours on activity that wasn’t providing a direct service to the customer. Qbit reviewed their systems and quickly implemented a new call flow path in their phone system which has reduced this unproductive time by 75%. This new system has also contributed to an average customer wait time of 10 seconds.
“Small businesses just want stuff to work and they don’t have time to muck around – implementing this new system was important to delivering great value.”
What can other small businesses apply with their teams?
As you can see from Qbit’s example, there are a few things that businesses of any size can do to get the most from their teams:
- Connect one-to-one – make time for the personal interaction with people in your teams. As the manager or business owner how you engage with people sets the tone for the business.
- Provide feedback – people thrive on timely helpful feedback – both positive and constructive. Notice and highlight where people have done a good job. Address any underperformance as soon as you can – remember: no-one comes to work to do a bad job.
- Create opportunities for people to get together – both formally, to discuss and learn how they can contribute to the company’s mission. But also informally, so they can learn a bit more about their colleagues.
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