The Container Store Loves Its Employees

For most companies, a proclamation like “we love our employees” would be perceived as corny (at best) or more likely as a complete farce. But The Container Store is not like many other companies. So it’s not surprising that the company proclaimed Valentine’s Day as its National We Love Our Employees Day.

So on Monday, employees were treated to special celebrations, gifts and recognition. Here’s an excerpt from the company’s blog post about the We Love Our Employees Day that gives some context for the event:

“…we all believe that if you work to make your employees the happiest employees around, well then they will absolutely, positively then make our customers the happiest customers around. And if those two are ecstatic, then wonderfully, and almost ironically, you’ll have the happiest shareholders around, too.”

That sounds like an exact narrative of our employee experience virtuous cycle which, interestingly, I introduced in a previous post about The Container Store:

The bottom line: Do you love your employees enough?

The Container Store CEO Engages Employees

I often reference The Container Store when discussing the 3rd principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function. Why? Because the retailer heavily invests in its people. Every one of its first-year, full-time salesperson receives about 241 hours of training—in a retail industry where the average is about seven hours. That’s more than 30x the industry average… amazing!

So I really enjoyed a recent interview with Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store in the New York Times. He discussed two of the company’s seven foundation principles:

Communication is leadership. So we believe in just relentlessly trying to communicate everything to every single employee at all times, and we’re very open.

One great person could easily be as productive as three good people. One great is equal to three good. If you really believe that, a lot of things happen. We try to pay 50 to 100 percent above industry average.

In addition to these principles, here are some of the other “gems” from Tindell:

We believe that we’re trying to build sort of a mutually interdependent group of stakeholders made up of the employees, the customers, the vendors, the community — and all of those people are interdependent and balanced

We’re big on what we call the whole-brain concept, which is simply trying to eliminate silos. So we probably have more people than we need in each meeting, and we don’t believe that’s unproductive

Also, probably 85 percent of our top leaders are women. I don’t want to get into a generalization here, but guess who tends to communicate the best?

We just beg and plead and try to get employees to believe that intuition does have a place in the work force. After all, intuition is only the sum total of your life experience. So why would you want to leave it at home when you come to work in the morning?

My take: One of my 6 Laws Of Customer Experience is that “Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.” The Container Store appears to fully understand what many companies don’t even recognize: Customer experience is inextricably linked to employee experience. But it’s not about an altruistic commitment to employees.

By focusing on employees, companies can establish what I’m calling the Employee Experience Virtuous Cycle where they end up with more loyal customers, stronger financials, and more engaged employees.  


The bottom line: Has your company established this virtuous cycle?