Improve Engagement at Your Funeral Home

Posted January 11, 2017

6 min read

A version of this post was originally published on

If you’re growing your business, and families are happy, just how much does employee engagement matter?

“To ignore employee engagement is to ignore one of the fundamental ways that you grow businesses—which is through people and relationships,” says Chris Powell, CEO of Talmetrix, a software company that facilitates, measures and helps improve employee engagement. Powell has spent more than 20 years as an HR executive and practitioner, helping firms develop, perform and succeed.

And, argues Powell, if a business owner is looking to expand or grow their business, the employees become the multiplier effect of that firm’s ability to achieve their business goals.

“Wouldn’t you want to know what drivers are behind employees’ motivation and satisfaction to get you to where you want to go? Wouldn’t you want to know more insights about what is driving your most important asset?” says Powell.

Employee Engagement at Your Funeral Home

Improving employee engagement helps directors support employees in their personal and professional journey. And, just about every business outcome is connected to engagement: productivity, innovation, performance, aligning culture, attracting customers, retaining customers—the list goes on.

“All the outcomes related to performance and productivity, revenue growth, and more—all of that’s connected to people, primarily your employees,” explains Powell.

Can Consumer Marketing Teach Leaders About Employee Engagement?

Firms know that feedback from families can help the business. Using feedback to draw out insights about families wants and needs helps firms to know who their most profitable families are, who the families are that can bring in future business, and what types of families they may need to replace in the future, as a few examples.

“[Firms can use consumer] information as a way to be that multiplier effect in terms of attracting and retaining new [families],” says Powell.

But that same kind of approach can also be used with employees in order to cultivate greater engagement over time, and it often never is used in that way.

“An organization should be able to collect and mine employee insights or workforce insights to figure out how to better attract and retain talent, which then can help [the organization] better attract and retain [families] and grow the business,” says Powell, when talking about the ideal scenario for using feedback from employees to drive engagement.

“In the old Biblical terms they used to say, ‘Know thyself,’ and I say from an organizational standpoint, it’s the same philosophy: know thy employees, and know thy customers, and you’ll find a winning solution.” Powell adds that often times, you see firms that know much more about their families than they know about their own employees.

Start Small at Your Funeral Home

If directors aren’t already doing so, they can start small by conducting short survey with employees. These quick and casual surveys can be as simple as asking employees a series of key questions.

Start with questions such as:

  • What would help you do your job better? Or, are you getting the tools and resources you need?
  • What are the things that are in your way or preventing you from doing a better job here?
  • What is it that you are trying to achieve in your role?
  • What else can we help you to do to better serve families?

With a company of 15 employees at Talmetrix, and being in the engagement business, Powell asks similar questions to his employees on a regular basis. “People love to be asked about themselves. It’s about starting a casual conversation to garner those insights from people,” he adds.

What to Look for & Monitor

An effective approach includes in-person feedback and continually asking for feedback from employees in other ways, too. Aim to understand the motivations and aspirations that make up your team.

Second, look at the entire environment that your team is working in at your funeral home. Powell calls these the motivation drivers and satisfaction drivers, which he explains are two very different levers of engagement that drive results.

Once feedback is in, be sure to communicate results or findings with your employees. Otherwise, they can distrust the process or think that nothing will change. Feedback should help your employees feel like they have a voice, they are free to share information, and they are more engaged and empowered to help you serve families as a consequence.

“You’re employing people, but never assume that you’re doing people a favor. Employee and employer are mutually in an adult-to-adult relationship. Both are mutually engaging to partner together, to bring value to ourselves, and to the business, and to our customers.”

Engagement is Not Just a Business Owners’ Responsibility

Effective communication after any program or initiative is critical, and it really comes down to building relationships with your employees. “Always thank people for their feedback, because feedback is a gift,” says Powell.

After thanking employees, then it’s the hard work of figuring out the action that needs to be taken. But employees must take ownership of their own engagement as well. It’s not just up to management or leaders in the organization to keep employees engaged—they can support employees’ tools, resources, the environment and the workplace—but that is only part of the picture.

“Management is not responsible for employees’ level of passion, drive or motivation,” says Powell. While leaders are there to help and model the way themselves, it’s employees’ choice, buy-in and energy they bring to work each day that also will support engagement over time. “Employees also play a critical role in improving their engagement, and they need to understand and explore what drivers them to be engaged and productive. Employees need to ‘know thyself’ as well.”

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About Aileron

Aileron is a nonprofit founded for the sole purpose of unleashing the potential of small, private businesses through a proven methodology – Aileron’s Professional Management System. The system helps you generate a strategic focus, develop your people, optimize your operations, and promote a culture of accountability.

Aileron’s flagship program, the Course for Presidents, sets business owners on the pathway to the next best version of their business. Through two days of interactive learning with peers and 6 sessions one-on-one with a Business Advisor, you’ll develop your to-do list for where you want your business to be. This is where you take possible and make it certain: Click here to learn more about the Course for Presidents at Aileron.

To learn more about Aileron, visit

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