Driving my girls to school this morning I heard a snippet on the news about a Gallup-Healthways survey of more than 300,000 people which revealed that regular church goers are happier each and every day compared to irregular church attendees or non-church goers. As if that weren’t interesting enough, the report also said that for regular church goers, this “high point” of happiness occurs on Sundays (while those who only occasionally or never attend religious services peak on Saturdays).
Absent an analysis of survey details, as someone who has been a regular attendee of churches for the better part of the last 33 years, I thought that I’d offer up a few reasons why people who regularly attend a church, mosque or synagogue might be happier than those who don’t. To that end, here are four divine secrets for businesses who want their own ‘congregations’ filled with happy customers and employees.
Customer Experience: Divine Secret of Happier Customers and Employees #1:
A belief that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Churches, mosques and synagogues from fundamental to new age, traditional to modern, and all stages in between still provide this one commonality for their members: The opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves as individuals. Their members are fully “bought in” to the vision (what can be accomplished) and so are willing to do what is needed to help fulfill the mission (the means by which they will bring the vision to pass).
Most churches have the ability to carry out their mission and vision not due to paid clergy but in large part due to volunteer efforts. Contrast that with the dilemma some business owners have getting even their paid employees to show up and do a full day’s work, or give 100%. Why? Church members believe in the mission of the organization.
And it’s not just being part of something, but the feeling that they know the purpose of life. The question asked in all generations: “Why are we here?” is answered for those who regularly attend church, synagogue or mosque. Who wouldn’t be “bought in” if they felt they had a truly worthwhile life’s purpose?
If you want your employees and customers to be happier, you need to get buy in to a vision of what can be that is meaningful to them, that is worthwhile (beyond monetary compensation), that provides emotional and intellectual payoffs and one in which they see themselves as valued contributors. To do that, you must first actually have a clear vision statement (the good that your business can ultimately provide to the world) and a clear mission statement (the means by which you will achieve your vision).
Secondly, you have to ensure that your mission and vision statements are more than just inspiring words. If no one buys in to your mission and vision statement, they are unlikely to come to pass. And if the only time that your employees hear your vision and mission statements are the day they’re hired or at annual meetings, they are not likely to be part of your employee culture; they aren’t likely to influence your operations, day in and day out. And if your mission and vision aren’t central to your day to day operations, you’ll never achieve them!
Customer Experience: Divine Secret of Happier Customers and Employees #2:
A belief that other members truly care about them and act on their behalf.
Man oh man, if you want to hear some great gossip, attend a church prayer meeting. You’ll find out who is sick and what they have, who is struggling financially and who is living in sin. Why? Because of the trust that members have in one another. They trust one another with incredibly personal information because they believe that other members have their best interests at heart, that they would not act on the information inappropriately or share it indiscriminately and that they will pray on their behalf and do whatever they can to meet the needs of one another.
That’s not usually what happens at the office, though, is it?
When we hear tidbits of gossip at work, we are more likely to share it with people whose business it isn’t and either to be happy that it isn’t us or even gleeful that someone is getting “what’s coming to them” karma wise.
But when it comes to your employees and customers, your business should be as safe as a church. Not only should your customers have absolute faith that any information you have about them remains confidential (and that goes for contact information, email addresses and financial information as well as any information actually obtained as a result of providing services for customers), but your employees should, too.
Gossip should be called out and eliminated, whether the secrets being told are those of customers or employees. And your employees should view your business as a safe place to share their problems and troubles – the employee culture should be one of mutual encouragement and be characterized by people who are willing to help one another out, whether on the job, or off.
Customer Experience: Divine Secret of Happier Customers and Employees #3:
A belief that they should focus less on their own problems and well-being and more on that of their fellow man.
It’s easy to focus on ourselves, it’s human nature. And the more we focus on ourselves, the more we tend to worry about our own problems, indulge in self-pity or experience jealousy at the success of others. It’s more difficult to put the well-being and happiness of others ahead of our own, but that is one of the guiding principles of conduct in churches, synagogues and mosques, where members not only preach but regularly practice putting the needs of their fellow man in the forefront.
If you want happier customers and employees, this must be central to the culture of your business, too.
- When was the last time you caught an employee doing something that was someone else’s job, just because it needed doing?
- When was the last time you had managers who worked to forward the initiatives of other departments, rather than fight for their own initiatives or “turf?”
- When was the last time you caught an employee going out of their own way for a customer?
- When was the last time that you did it, yourself?
Customer Experience: Divine Secret of Happier Customers and Employees #4:
A belief that they have an oasis for encouragement, learning, personal growth and self-renewal.
When church goers walk through the doors of worship, they not only find a community of people they believe truly care about them and who would go out of their way to help them, but when they walk through those doors, they are entering a place where they can leave the cares of the world behind and find sanctuary; an oasis where they can renew their inner spirit and mind and prepare to face the week ahead.They expect to be uplifted. They expect to learn and grow. They expect to leave feeling filled up, rather than drained out.
What happens when your employees or customers walk through your doors? Is anything about your customer experience meant to renew or refresh their spirit in some way – by showing that you truly value them, by demonstrating that you view them as people (rather than tools or wallets), by stimulating their senses or providing them with information and education to engage, enlighten and intrigue them? When was the last time that you put any effort into ensuring that employees break and lunch rooms were hospitable for rest and refreshment? Would your employees or your customers say that their renewal, refreshment and interest was important to you or your business?
And that brings me to one final observation. Regular church goers aren’t just happier in general than non church going counterparts; they’re happier every day of the week, and especially on Sundays. Are your customers and employees happier on the days when they interact with your business than on any other days? If you take inspiration from the divine secrets of customer and employee happiness, they could be!
Elizabeth Kraus is the author of 365 Days of Marketing.
365 Days of Marketing is available on amazon.com in print or digital format. It contains marketing how-to, inspiration and content for every day of the year that can help you cultivate buy-in and loyalty from among your employees as well as your customers, and give you the tools you need to hone your leadership and management skills.