Welcome to episode four of #TrackThis, my recurring webinar series with Matt Rissell, CEO of TSheets!

This episode’s topic is a big deal for my company, and that’s why I wanted to share it with you. Happy employees are more productive, and they’ll make your company better. Money spent on employee happiness is money well spent! And I hear all of the time—and as you’ll hear in this webinar, even Matt feels this way—that current company leaders who are addressing employee happiness are seeing such an improvement in their workplace and in their bottom line, that they say they wish they’d known about this sooner.

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to cultivate good culture at your company, and what kinds of effects you want that culture to have on how your company operates.

I’ve included the full audio and slide deck above, and the full transcript below:

How Do You Measure Happiness?

Matt: Hi, and welcome to episode number four of #TrackThis, small business tracking tips from CEOs. I’m Matt Rissell, CEO of TSheets. With us is also Sabrina Parsons, the CEO of Palo Alto Software. She’s going to talk about today how to make more money by making your employees happy. Sabrina, take it away.

Sabrina: Thanks, Matt. Always love to do the #TrackThis episodes with Matt. Really today and this week, what we want to talk about is happy employees. I’m sure everybody has heard people say that if you can put benefits into your company, if you can think about your culture and do things that make your employees happy, it’s better for your company. This isn’t just something people say. People have done studies.

This book by Noelle Nelson is really a study that was done that proves that if you make your employees happy, you do make more money. Harvard Business Review actually did a whole roundup in 2012 on all kinds of different studies that really proved that if you can create a culture in your company where your employees are really happy, you will benefit financially. So it’s worthwhile, and there’s lots of different reasons. Right?

But let’s just start with happy employees produce more. They stay at your company longer. So you don’t have the cost of retraining, as well as the cost of going out and hiring an employee. The longer an employee is with you, the more company knowledge that employee has and the more valuable they are to you. Then they just generally care about your company, which means they’re going to make good decisions when they’re faced with decisions they have to make for you.

So it just makes all kinds of sense but on—you know, what we like to do here is really talk about how do you track things. You can’t really implement things in your business if you can’t track them. So how do you really track happiness? I put a few things up here on the slide because these are some of the things we do to track happiness. Retention, like I mentioned. The longer an employee stays, the better your company is, and you know as a CEO or a business owner that you probably have pretty happy employees if they’re not leaving, if they’re staying, and you find that year after year after year your employees are with you.

If your employees are also referring other people through word of mouth, that’s also a great indicator that they love what they’re doing. So you can track retention. You can track word of mouth referrals when you’re hiring an employee. You can do anonymous surveys. I definitely recommend that you do them. Survey Monkey is a great tool because you can send it around with information to employees on how this is truly anonymous. So they really can say what they feel.

In Oregon, there’s an organization that actually does anonymous surveys, and then comes up with a list of the hundred best companies to work for in Oregon, which Palo Alto Software has been a part of for many years. So you can find out if your state has something like that, and they can administer the survey.

Then we have something that we’ve done per employee request. We have a Live Well Committee, and that committee is made up by a group of employees, a couple from each department in our company. They’re really in charge of the things in our company that are not strategy- and work-related. It’s not about projects or getting things done from a work perspective. It’s about, for instance, next Friday, an employee trivia night, or a movie afternoon when we celebrate an anniversary of a product. Or two different projects that are going on right now on with the Live Well Committee are volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club here in Eugene, as well as teaching a coding class for high schoolers at a local high school.

Those are all because employees came to the Live Well Committee. They said, “We want to do this,” and the Live Well Committee has implemented it, rather than the management team dictating what we think people want. We let the employees do that. So with that, I’m going to turn it over to Matt, and he’s going to talk a little bit about TSheets and what they do to keep their employees happy and how he tracks it.

Matt: Well first, look, Sabrina is exactly right. Happy employees make a huge difference, and you’ve got to be able to track it. You’ve got to be able to have some metrics that you can actually track and judge exactly how you’re doing on that. Sabrina, how many employees do you have?

Sabrina: We are just at the 51 mark.

Matt: So just over 50 employees in the software service world. I bet she’s, I mean, literally in the top 1 percent of all software service companies that are out there. That’s unbelievable. And having the level of retention she has, her principles—they work. We do much of the same thing at TSheets, but I have a confession to make. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to be a little transparent. Now we’re not going to tell anybody this. Right, Sabrina?

Sabrina: Absolutely not.

Matt: Secret. [Laughing]. So my last company before TSheets, I didn’t do these things. Now I do them, and I can see a huge difference. So now, all the employees—I provide drinks, lunch every other Thursday, a big lunch, barbecue and everything. I provide unlimited granola bars and every kind of snacks you can imagine, all on the company. So anything they can drink, and that includes a beer or a fridge full of beer. I never did that for my last company.

We do golf tournaments, where we actually reserve the entire golf course for an afternoon, and we have our own internal tournament. We have big prizes and games. We do Christmas parties where—this last year, we took over two houses, one of them being a 24,000 square foot home on a lake, and just celebrated an unbelievable growth year of over 100 percent growth.

I do those things because exactly what Sabrina said, and that is we get unbelievable results. We have—you know, it’s interesting. You know, software developers are tough to recruit. They are. We now have not once had to post a paid position for any opening inside of TSheets. We’ve been able to recruit just through word of mouth and through relationships. I know many companies pay $10,000 to $20,000 for recruiting fees, just to get a developer. We don’t have to do that. There’s a huge savings there.

The other thing that I’ve learned about is that my role as a CEO, and I wish so badly I had done this before—I’ve come to realize that just as hard as I try to sell TSheets and try to acquire new businesses, I work that hard on not only gaining new employees but retaining my existing employees. I invest heavily in them. The results are unbelievable and even to the point where you can see our slogan just under TSheets there. It says, “We heart employees.” That’s who we are. Long story about how we got there, but it really is our DNA of who we are. Great topic, Sabrina. Thank you for bringing it up.

Sabrina: Yeah, absolutely.

Matt: This is great. Yes. This was, by the way, Sabrina’s subject in—it’s definitely a passion of hers. So make sure that you tweet about this. If you like what you hear, and you are applying these principles to your company, and it’s making a difference, whether it be your employees or whatever it is you’re tracking, or if you have ideas that you want us to talk about of subjects that, you know, involve tracking this, tracking something inside your company, make sure you let us know. Tweet about it. #TrackThis. This is Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software and Matt Rissell, CEO of TSheets. Signing off.

Sabrina: Thank you so much. Bye bye, everybody.

AvatarSabrina Parsons

Sabrina has served as CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007.