“Why do we always have to be so damn serious; why can’t we have a little fun once in a while?”
That’s what Roger Friedman, the owner of our company, has been asking me a lot lately. And he’s right. People who have fun doing what they do for a living tend to be more engaged in their work, and it shows up in the results of the operation. These companies tend to lead their competitors in areas like employee retention, customer loyalty and profitability.
Take a company like The Container Store. For me, a 45-year-old male, who enjoys lowbrow comedy, his bulldog and lifting heavy weights, a trip to The Container Store is like doing penance for my sins.
But for my fiancée — who, by the time you read this, will officially have become Mrs. Eder — a visit to The Container Store is like going to Disneyland. For the record, I hate Disneyland, too. She loves The Container Store, which I find somewhat concerning because she says she loves me, too.
The Container Store is solving problems everybody has — namely, where to put all our stuff, so that we can organize it neatly and efficiently, therefore allowing us to go out and get more stuff. Forget about baseball and apple pie; the never-ending acquisition and accumulation of more stuff is the great American pastime. Its store associates — trained experts in the fine art of harnessing steel and plastic to facilitate the putting away of any and all stuff — enable us to live the dream.
“What makes it so great?” noted Fortune magazine of The Container Store, which ranked No. 28 in the 2014 edition of its annual 100 Best Companies to Work For rankings — the second-highest retailer on the list after Wegmans. “When this storage retailer geared up for its IPO last year, it reserved an unprecedented percentage of shares (14% of the total offered) for employees to purchase. A quarter of them did — and they watched in wonder as the share price doubled on the first day of trading, from $18 to $36.”
Part of it is compensation and benefits, no doubt; part of it is the values and the culture of the company. Part of it is an investment in training and systems.
But I believe there is a simpler reason The Container Store associates are so good at what they do. Call them a bunch of storage geeks, but they enjoy what they do and they seem to love being at work. It shows up in employee engagement; it shows up in customer loyalty; and it shows up in growth. As of its most recent earnings report in January, third-quarter sales were up 7.3% overall, up more than 10% in the retail stores. And last year, it added 7.9% new jobs.
They’re kicking ass and having fun doing it.
Roger’s right. Why the hell do we have to be so damn serious all the time?
Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News and DSN Collaborative Care magazines. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.