In the dynamic world of kitchen and bath showrooms, the pursuit of employee happiness is not just a noble aspiration; it’s a strategic imperative. As the Partridge Family famously sang, “Come on, get happy,” fostering a sense of joy and purpose among your showroom team can be the catalyst for increased productivity, team member loyalty and customer satisfaction. In an era where workforce engagement is becoming more scarce, as indicated by Gallup’s report that just 30% of the U.S. workforce is actively engaged and this number is declining, proactive measures can catapult a showroom into a destination of choice for best-in-class talent.
Why do so many employees seem disengaged? The answer lies in a complex web of factors, from the evolving nature of work spurred by remote and hybrid schedules to ineffective communication from management and unclear job expectations. Employees yearn for appreciation, growth opportunities and a sense of belonging.
To build a showroom culture that thrives on happiness and engagement, start by understanding that happiness is not a feeling; it’s a direction, as articulated by Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey in their groundbreaking book, How to Build the Life You Want. Brooks and Winfrey identify three core components of happiness: enjoyment, satisfaction and purpose. These elements are not handed out freely; they require an investment of time and effort.
Enjoyment, unlike mere pleasure, is the result of creating cherished memories through shared experiences that engage our conscious minds. Satisfaction emanates from achieving goals, whether it’s exceeding margin expectations, winning new clients or securing a promotion. Meanwhile, purpose is why you exist; without it, people would be completely lost. Having a sense of purpose allows showroom team members to better face challenges with a sense that those challenges can be overcome, providing a higher sense of fulfillment beyond earning a living.
It’s essential to realize that these components of happiness often coexist with elements of unhappiness. Enjoyment requires effort and the willingness to forego immediate pleasures. Satisfaction can be fleeting, as once a goal is achieved, the sense of accomplishment diminishes. Purpose, on the other hand, often requires enduring hardships.
How can showroom owners create a culture that thrives on enjoyment, satisfaction and purpose? Gladys Schanstra, president and chief designer at Drury Design Kitchen & Bath Studio in Glen Ellyn, IL, stresses the importance of transparent honesty and regular, compassionate conversations. Recognizing team members’ strengths and contributions in real-time fosters trust and creates a sense of shared achievement, providing both satisfaction and enjoyment.
At Bath Kitchen and Tile Center’s three showrooms in Delaware and Maryland, the Entrepreneurial Operating System is deployed to set clear goals for team members. This approach ensures that satisfaction is attainable through defined metrics. Regular performance reviews evaluate goal attainment and alignment with the company’s core values, further enhancing happiness and loyalty. The company understands that all goals can’t be exclusively tied to revenue. For instance, installers are tasked with achieving a 90% sign-off rate after installation, while drivers are challenged to achieve 90% on-time deliveries.
Arthur C. Brooks’ research emphasizes that the happiest workers believe they are earning their success and creating value in their work lives. Showroom owners are urged to establish systems where team members earn their success through merit and personal accomplishments, fostering a sense of purpose and recognition.
Patty Hayos, a principal of Signature Kitchen & Bath in Cupertino, CA, has successfully cultivated an environment where team members have clear roles and responsibilities, and the autonomy to work independently. This trust among team members fosters collaboration and problem-solving, enhancing overall satisfaction and enjoyment.
Cabinet S-Top in Medina, OH, has instituted systems that enable employees to earn their success through merit and personal accomplishments. The company introduced a creative contest with an Olympic theme, allowing team members to recognize one another’s achievements with gold, silver and bronze awards. This practice not only enhances enjoyment but also provides a deeper sense of meaning.
At Thomas Michael Design Studio in East Wareham, MA, team members earn their success by contributing to the achievement net profit goals, which are shared with the entire staff when met. According to company principal Mike Ferreira, “That money is a motivator, but not the only benefit. The reward is recognition of achieving a goal and being valued.” At the company, being valued translates to freedom of movement. Company owners make it clear to their team members that they expect them to attend every one of their child’s ballgames, concerts or other activities, regardless of when they occur.
Showroom Strategies for Happiness
In a competitive landscape where attracting and retaining talent is a constant challenge, creating a showroom culture centered on enjoyment, satisfaction and meaning can set your business apart as a destination of choice. By fostering happiness among your team, you not only elevate the workplace but also improve your showroom’s performance and reputation in the marketplace. Happiness is not just a byproduct of success; it’s the path to it.
So, how can we delve deeper into these concepts and further explore the strategies that can make a kitchen and bath showroom a haven of happiness and productivity?
1. The Essence of Enjoyment: Enjoyment, as Brooks and Winfrey define it, isn’t just about fleeting pleasures but rather the creation of lasting, positive memories through shared experiences. This concept applies directly to the workplace. How can showroom owners infuse enjoyment into the daily grind?
Invest in Team Bonding: Consider team- building activities that foster camaraderie. From regular team lunches to fun outings, these experiences create memories that form the bedrock of enjoyment.
Encourage Creativity: Empower your team to bring creativity into their work. Allow space for innovation and novel approaches to design projects, turning routine responsibilities into exciting challenges.
Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate not only big milestones but also small victories. Acknowledging individual and collective achievements keeps the atmosphere vibrant.
2. Savoring Satisfaction: Satisfaction arises from setting and achieving goals, and it’s a driving force behind engagement. Showroom owners can actively cultivate satisfaction by implementing goal-oriented strategies.
Define Clear Objectives: Ensure that each team member understands their role and the specific goals they are expected to achieve. Clarity breeds motivation.
Recognize Progress: Regularly review progress toward goals and acknowledge accomplishments. This recognition fosters a sense of fulfillment and keeps team members motivated.
Offer Growth Opportunities: Encourage professional development by providing opportunities to enhance skills through professional development training, supporting CKD and other certifications, and career advancement within the organization.
3. The Quest for Purpose: Purpose, the third component of happiness, is the most profound. It goes beyond personal satisfaction and delves into the profound sense of meaning that work can provide. How can showroom owners instill purpose in their teams?
Define Your Showroom’s Mission: Clearly articulate the purpose and mission of your showroom. Help your team understand the impact of their work on customers and the community.
Connect Work to a Larger Cause: Show how individual contributions align with broader societal or industry goals. When team members see their work as part of something greater, it imbues them with a deeper sense of purpose.
Foster a Culture of Giving Back: Engage in philanthropic activities or community service as a team. Contributing to causes larger than themselves can significantly enhance a sense
4. Recognizing the Role of Leadership: Leadership plays a pivotal role in creating a culture of happiness and engagement within a showroom. It’s the responsibility of showroom owners and managers to set the tone and lead by example.
Transparent Communication: Be open and honest in your communication with your team members. Address concerns and challenges promptly, and ensure that your team feels heard and valued.
Lead with Empathy: Understand the unique needs and aspirations of your team members. Empathetic leaders can better tailor their support and recognize when adjustments are necessary.
Promote Autonomy: Encourage team members to take ownership of their work and provide them with the autonomy to make decisions within their roles. Empowerment can boost engagement.
Continuous Learning: Invest in ongoing training and development for your team. A commitment to growth sends a powerful message about your dedication to their success.
The ability to attract and retain talent is a leading challenge for almost every kitchen and bath showroom. By understanding that creating a culture where enjoyment, satisfaction and meaning can thrive, owners can make their showroom the go-to destination for both customers and team members in their marketplace. ▪
Tom Cohn serves as exec. v.p. of the Bath & Kitchen Business Group, the nation’s largest shareholder-owned kitchen and bath group purchasing organization. Named a 2020 KBDN Innovator, Cohn also is president of Cohn Communications, a multidisciplinary association management and marketing firm headquartered in Washington, DC.