Seven honorees share their insight and wisdom on how to create a great work environment amid unprecedented challenges.
Congratulations to all of our 2022 Best Places To Work in Direct Selling Honorees!
- 6-TIME WINNER – LifeVantage
- 5-TIME WINNERS – Plexus, USANA
- 4-TIME WINNERS – MONAT, Scentsy
- 3-TIME WINNER – Total Life Changes
- 2-TIME WINNERS – Neora
Highly engaged employees appreciate their coworkers, love the organization they are working for and are fully connected to the overall mission and goals associated with their role. They function like company evangelists, catalyzing contagious enthusiasm to the rest of the team.
These employees don’t happen on their own, however, and creating an environment that fosters them requires senior leaders and decision-makers who are committed to designing work environments that not only align with the needs of local employees, but also broader shifts in the marketplace. This year, companies who rose above the competition to earn the title of Best Places to Work in Direct Selling 2022 exuded a willingness to transparently communicate during uncertain times, scale flexibility for workers, dig deep to boost pay and charismatically cast vision for long-term success.
Compassion Is Key
The modern workplace has endured turbulent changes during the last two years and survey data in Quantum Workplace’s Employee Engagement Report: Top 6 Trends in 2021 illustrates that these disruptions may endure in the foreseeable future.
Nationwide, 2020 was the year of engagement, returning the highest levels of engagement the company had ever seen in its research. It was an unexpected plot twist, given all the uncertainty the year brought, but many leaders quickly adapted their policies to support employee needs. Flexibility was the new office buzzword and teams shifted to remote or hybrid models with a priority of protecting health and wellbeing. The data shows that this increased the level of trust employees had in their leadership and led them to engage at higher levels and with greater satisfaction in their roles.
These elevated numbers persisted into 2021, when the first quarter of the year showed continued peak engagement. By spring, however, those numbers were beginning to level off and in the second and third quarter of 2021, employee engagement dropped.
While this data reflects the results of a wider marketplace, these trends were evident in a targeted analysis of the direct selling industry as well. 2020 was a banner year for employee engagement within the direct selling industry, but those engagement levels saw a significant decline throughout 2021. This year’s report shows that highly engaged employees represent only about half of all employees (55 percent), with moderately engaged following closely behind (33 percent). Barely engaged increased to nine percent, and disengaged bounced back to pre-pandemic levels of three percent.
Amid these numbers was an undertone that Quantum Workplace detected across industries: Fatigue. COVID fatigue, communication fatigue and fatigue in general plagued both leadership and employees. This has been a taxing season, and the levels of engagement reflect that.
Companies who have weathered this season well didn’t deny this fatigue, but rather compassionately listened to the needs and concerns of employees.
“We have heard the feedback loud and clear from our employees since introducing hybrid work,” said Darjennys Olivares, MONAT Senior Generalist, People Experience. “It has helped with productivity, turnover, wellness and allows us to have easier access to top talent. MONAT understands the importance of communication and creating a psychologically safe environment for our employees. Open communication has been imperative during this pandemic season starting from the top. Our newsletters, meet and greets and townhalls are just a few channels that MONAT uses to share and connect with our employees. We have also implemented things like paid COVID leave, providing hand sanitizer, masks and gloves to our employees, disinfecting high touched areas, among others, to ensure the safety of our employees.”
Empower to Engage
Monitoring the upward trajectory of employee engagement during 2020 and then the rebounding steps backward that followed offers prime opportunities for leaders seeking to improve employee engagement and overall satisfaction in the future.
First, communication was a key element in preventing disconnection during the abrupt switch to remote work models. C-suite leaders and executives made themselves highly visible through Facebook lives and consistent updates in the early stages of the pandemic. As 2021 waned, so did this heightened level of communication.
Executives turned back toward their behind-the-scenes tasks of keeping operations running and employees felt the dearth of this personal interaction. Connection builds trust, and leaders now have the infrastructure and experience to do it well. Companies that have developed highly engaged employees lean on a rhythm and feedback model that both nurtures this relationship while preventing burnout for executives struggling to juggle it all.
“Transparency is a big one for us as is communicating candidly,” said Steve Fife, LifeVantage Chief Executive Officer. “We have a monthly all-hands staff meeting to discuss the current and upcoming priorities, talk about our progress and take any questions (and yes, we do get questions). Our executives are also hosting lunches where any employee can come to get to know our executives better and talk about what is on their minds.”
Second, now that employees have tasted what the freedom and flexibility of remote work feels like, as well as experiencing a season of employment when their health and wellbeing was of highest priority, honoring individual empowerment is non-negotiable. Even though national trends illustrate that the number of remote workers reduced by half last year, many employees are now aware that their role can be completed successfully outside of the office and they want the latitude to decide how, when and where they will work.
“The past two years have been extremely hard on everyone, leading to severe burnout around the world. Because of this, employees everywhere have understandingly slowly become less and less engaged,” said USANA President Jim Brown. “Given USANA’s strong foundation of employee satisfaction, a large company-wide drop off in engagement has not been seen. Allowing flexible employee schedules helps maintain engagement. Employees are able to find balance in their lives and work best in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable. At the end of the day, it’s important for employees, and people in general, to know they are cared for and appreciated. USANA has always made this a top priority—but especially now. Virtual and in-person events help to keep tasks fun and engaging, and managers and executives are holding regular check ins. USANA is doing everything it can to keep its employees happy and engaged.”
Where Direct Selling Shines
The direct selling industry showed great strength in the Personal Engagement, Team Dynamics and Trust in Leadership categories.
- Eighty-six percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I believe this organization will be successful in the future.”
- Eighty-three percent agreed with “I am proud to work here.”
- Eighty-two percent said they were happy with their job.
- Across large- and medium-sized companies, 81 percent of employees said that the people they work most closely with are committed to producing top-quality work.
Direct selling employees overwhelmingly feel pride and find happiness in their jobs. Medium-sized companies had an edge over larger companies in the Manager Effectiveness category, with 90 percent saying they believed their manager cared about them as a person and 88 percent saying their immediate manager helps them to be successful in their job.
At the end of the day, employees leave work and go into their community where their health and happiness will have a direct impact on their region. When a company is a great place to work, the local and broader community benefits from their positive experience.
“Recently, Plexus commissioned an independent economic impact study, which showed the company had a $74 million GDP economic impact in Arizona and $882 million GDP impact on the U.S. economy, demonstrating Plexus as a major economic driver, including $25 million in U.S. sales taxes,” said Plexus Founder and CEO Tarl Robinson. “When you can see, feel and measure the extent to which Plexus is making a difference, it’s easy to understand why we’re a great place to work.”
Competitive Pay Matters
The Great Resignation has built a heated job market, where job openings aren’t hard to come by and inflated bonuses and attractive perks have begun to lure even long-term employees to consider a switch for better pay. In the direct selling industry, this is increasingly critical to consider, especially given this year’s data.
Only 56 percent of employees within the direct selling industry reported feeling that they were paid fairly, a sizeable decrease from 68 percent last year. A three to five percent drop from one year to the next in Quantum Workplace’s survey represents a meaningful change that can usually be felt by the organization. A 12 percent decline? That’s a seismic shift.
Possibly even more important, this 56 percent is starkly beneath the national average of 74 percent. Competitive pay is now a dealbreaker and the companies that employees describe as the best places to work know this to be true.
“Employee recognition has and will continue to be a top priority for us,” said Jim Morrison, Neora Senior Director of Human Resources. “We continue to offer competitive salaries, bonuses and benefits.”
There is a war on talent happening right now, as companies urgently seek to fill their positions, and the best places to work are well-versed in what it means to go the extra mile to attract and retain top employees. Scentsy accomplishes this with a long list of incentives that prioritize work-life balance like “bring your child to work day” and an inclusive parental leave program. They also go above and beyond with unexpected extras, like an onsite fitness center that features intramurals, classes and personal trainers and subsidized meals from an onsite restaurant that offers gourmet breakfast and lunch menus.
“With increased labor shortages and inflation, we have evaluated and reevaluated our salary structures and pay philosophies to ensure we’re offering competitive pay and compensation packages,” said Dan Orchard, Scentsy President and Interim CEO. “We have gotten creative with flexible schedules and out-of-the-box strategies to balance where and how people work in all areas of our business, and we offer an incredible number of perks for employees.”
Opportunities for reaching employees who wouldn’t define themselves as highly engaged abound, but crafting an environment where people thrive at work must begin with caring equally about all employees. In 2020 and 2021, many companies made commitments toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts (DE&I), and now employees expect to see returns and gains on those promises.
While there is still much work to be done, medium-sized direct selling companies fared well in regard to DE&I, with 89 percent of respondents saying they believe that everyone at their company is treated fairly regardless of race, gender, age, ethnic background, disability, sexual orientation or other differences.
The best places to work in direct selling know how to accentuate the many elements important to employees—competitive pay, compassionate leadership, flexibility and transparency—while also holding to tenets of equity and inclusion that make an organization a safe and welcoming place to work.
“Love is at the root of Total Life Changes,” said Blair Cremeens, Total Life Changes Director of Marketing. “Ours is a safe, encouraging and diverse environment where human beings are empowered to grow and thrive. Here, we don’t just look out for each other; we believe in one another. We aren’t just a company; we are a family. We celebrate, have fun and make memories together. People are at the heart of all that we do, and we do it for our families and a brighter future.”
Quantum Workplace Methodology
This is the SEVENth year that Direct Selling News has partnered with Quantum Workplace to measure, analyze and, ultimately, honor the channel’s best places to work.
We opened nominations for the Best Place to Work in Direct Selling August 1, 2021, began surveying October 25 and closed the survey on December 17. Seven outstanding companies made the cut for our 2022 honorees.
Since 2010, Quantum has surveyed more than 8,000 organizations annually representing numerous industry sectors through the Best Places to Work Program. This year marks the seventh year that Quantum has surveyed the direct selling industry. The Best Places to Work Program survey utilizes the same 30 questions across six categories for all participants, regardless of industry. No single question is weighted more heavily than the others, although certain topics may be covered more frequently than others.
Six of the 30 questions on the survey are designed to quantify discretionary effort, intent to stay and advocacy for company. The other 24 questions measure workplace culture, identifying, for example, the kind of conditions under which employees are more likely to advocate for their employers. The questions may be standard, but the results are highly individual. They shed light on what each company can do to retain their valued employees. And, as we examine the direct selling channel, those results suggest some patterns within our broader industry that merit discussion.
From the April 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.