4 lessons from Sleep Therapeutics’ winning playbook to drive employee engagement
Remember when gym shutdowns and pandemic lockdowns combined to create a home exercise equipment buying boom? In 2020, treadmill sales increased by 135%, stationary bike sales nearly tripled and Peloton, the exercise equipment and media darling, announced a 232% increase in revenue.
Fast forward a few years. Peloton’s market value has plummeted by 80%, and we can safely assume that a large percentage of those at-home treadmills are now languishing under layers of clothes and stacks of other household items. Despite best intentions, without a strong commitment and plan in place to make exercising at home a priority, many people are too busy, tired or just plain unmotivated to follow through.
This same dynamic can come into play when you introduce a new digital training technology to your employees. You’ve researched to find the best-fit solution, set clear goals and worked quickly to integrate it into your tech stack. You finally release the new solution to your employees and…crickets. Why? Because they haven’t bought into the value, which means they’re more likely to view the new tech as a disruption to their workflow than a helpful tool. As a result, engagement remains stubbornly low, and the technology ultimately fails to deliver on its promises.
Michael Blundell will be the first to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
How Sleep Therapeutics keeps the engagement spark alive
Blundell is the Executive Vice President and CSO at Sleep Therapeutics, one of the largest sleep solution companies in Canada. He also has direct experience sustaining sky-high engagement with digital technology he launched to his frontline staff—we’re talking an impressive 100% engagement from day one! Blundell recently participated in our AxoniCom RETAIL virtual event to share a few of his top strategies for sparking and sustaining employee engagement with A-C-E I-T, Sleep Therapeutics’ daily training and communication platform that’s powered by Axonify.
1. Getting buy-in starts at the top—but it doesn’t stop there. For Blundell, a successful technology launch begins with ensuring company leadership has fully bought into the plan. He wanted his leadership team to understand the “why” behind the new technology, which really centered around better equipping frontline employees to sell to more educated consumers. Access to online research means people now come to Sleep Therapeutics with strong opinions around which solution they need. This puts strain on frontline staff who need deeper knowledge and skills to advocate for alternative solutions to their problems.
“We wanted the leadership team to embrace this concept and understand that our company is going through transition.” says Blundell. “We have to adapt to the market and, to adapt, we’ve got to use new tools.”
Getting the green light from leadership won’t do much good if the people who will use the technology every day aren’t also on board. Blundell credits a thorough implementation process with getting frontline employees excited to use the new tech. His team even scheduled one-on-one meetings with every employee, which gave them a voice in the process and a chance to ask questions.
Blundell’s team also made sure everyone understood how to log in and could personalize their training experience by choosing their favorite animated A-C-E I-T character—a virtual coach that guides each user through their daily training sessions.
“We put a bit of flavor into it with the characters and animation to make it feel warm and fuzzy rather than just another thing they have to do,” Blundell says. “They understood the why behind all of this as well, so it was an easy move because the work was done upfront.”
2. Leaning on data to uncover participation red flags. Blundell’s team keeps a close eye on key metrics to identify where engagement is lagging. By drilling down deeper into participation numbers over time, they can see if engagement starts to dip month-to-month and take quick action to boost engagement, like sending reminders or running a fun competition among employees.
The Sleep Therapeutics team is particularly interested in identifying non-participants—those employees that aren’t logging in at all. “If people aren’t participating, it gives us the opportunity to find out why,” says Blundell. “It’s not to hold them to task all the time, but to understand the reason behind why they’re not doing it. This tool really helps with that.”
Bonus: checking in with your people one-on-one doesn’t just help boost participation, it also makes them feel seen and valued.
Want more strategies for driving sky-high engagement? Check out the full conversation from AxoniCom RETAIL
3. Give them lots of reasons to keep coming back. The more digital hoops frontline employees must jump through in a workday, the more likely they are to drop off along the journey. Sleep Therapeutics uses A-C-E I-T as a single source of truth to give their frontline the information they need to get work done and collaborate with customers. Through the digital solution, employees access quick, daily bursts of microlearning, a weekly news flash and other important communications, like real-time updates to the business. Employees can also look up information on the fly to have more productive and persuasive conversations with today’s highly informed customers.
“Imagine it like a grand library,” says Blundell. “I love the idea that you can go into this big, old, beautiful library, but now you can do it on your phone and access all this information at your fingertips. It’s so much more convenient than having to call customers back or say, ‘I’ll let you know.’”
4. Keep it fresh. The final critical aspect of keeping employees engaged in their training and comms platform is serving up a steady supply of new, relevant content. For Sleep Therapeutics, one team member owns the platform and works with various groups across the business to brainstorm important topics. This allows them to create focused content that keeps employees in the know and feeling connected to the business and each other.
During implementation, Blundell’s team worked with Axonify’s Instructional Design team to dig into the KPIs, identifying the top business objectives that Sleep Therapeutics wanted to meet through their A-C-E I-T initiative. They also learned the methodology for creating quality microlearning content to feed the platform. As an Axonify customer, Sleep Therapeutics has free access to hundreds of relevant topics in the Content Marketplace, and the team can also leverage Axonify’s AI-powered Content Assistant to speed up the process of creating content that moves the needle on business results.
“We’re pretty self-sufficient now when it comes to creating content,” says Blundell. “The microlearning is really good; that’s the biggest win for us.”
Looking for more no-fluff conversations around important retail topics, like driving frontline agility, increasing conversions, embracing BYOD and igniting the power of frontline managers? Check out AxoniCom RETAIL on demand.