Monday Motivation: Employees First, Customers Second


Good Morning. It is Monday. Is your company concerned about creating a work environment that is human-centric; a company where human beings thrive?

In your company, does the employee comes first and the customer second?

WHAT???!!! You might be thinking that I have lost my mind. This concept, to some, can seem so controversial; but, pause and reflect on it for a minute, and it makes tons of sense.

Employees provide service to the customer. When employees feel like they matter, they are inspired to provide a level of service that truly comes from the heart. The highest achievable level of service comes from employees who are satisfied, engaged, motivated; happy 😊!  Customers are foundational to  your company’s existence. When a company is committed to creating a culture of caring, connection and investment in its people, a company that reaches peoples’ hearts, a company that puts its employees first; those employees will provide superior service and ultimately, the customer comes out ahead. The customer will feel as though they come first; customer satisfaction and retention will improve; probably skyrocket!

 The book, “The Customer Comes Second; Put Your People First and Watch ‘Em Kick Butt” by Hal Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters was republished in 2002, and it reminds us that despite the rapidly changing business world and marketplace, the need for companies to attract, retain and develop great people is a constant and your people are your key competitive advantage. Richard Branson also states, “Customers come second, employees first. It is a philosophy that brings unexpected benefits to both the company and the client!” Investing in its people is one of the smartest business decisions a company can make. Human capital costs are a huge percentage of a company’s operating expense, yet many company’s do not invest in their people. Most will cut these expenses first. But the truth is, in order to reap the most benefits from employees, enjoy a solid reputation, and achieve the best business outcomes, companies need to invest actively in people; in the same way they invest in marketing, product development, technology, etc.

Putting your employees first; investing in your employees, does not have to be complicated and overwhelming. Here are a few ideas you can start incorporating into your environment:

  • Invest in professional development and employee training. This leads to greater job satisfaction. According to a 2014 survey by Society for Human Resource Management, 42% of employees said their organization’s commitment to professional development was “very important to their job satisfaction”. It shows them that their employer cares about them and their career. Employees who do not feel like they are being developed are 12 times more likely to leave. Attrition is expensive; studies show that it costs anywhere from 9 months to two times their annual salary to replace an employee.

  • Communicate and listen to your employees – Virgin is a good example of this concept. Rather than just lecturing “top-down” the company’s strategic direction, they involve employees in strategic conversations helping them feel valued, and at the same time, get lots of fresh ideas and perspectives. Virgin operates with the belief that “every person has the potential to come up with the next million-dollar idea”. The only way to find it out is to listen!

  • Manage with an “open door, approachable style” – The best managers get to know their employees and feel comfortable talking about any subject whether it is work-related or not. Gallup research states that when employees feel like their managers are approachable, employee engagement is significantly higher versus when they feel their manager is not approachable, then employees become actively disengaged.

  • Keep It Casual – This may look like, “loosening up the dress code” to a more casual style or allowing employees to personalize their workspace. Research shows that when employees feel like they can bring their “whole self”, to work they are happier. When employees are happier, business outcomes improve. Google is a good example of these concepts, at the same time, being extremely productive!

  • Celebrate Employees’ Accomplishments – Adobe has created a “Life Blog” and on it they share employees’ accomplishments and employee success stories. They have found this gives a huge boost to employee pride and it is also a great place for employees to share ideas with their co-workers.

These are just a few ideas that can be easily implemented. By putting employees first and investing in them, you can help them not only relate to your company’s goals, but also find common ground. This builds trust and feelings of mutual respect.

When employees feel like their company cares about them, they feel a stronger connection, higher satisfaction and increased loyalty and engagement. Statistics show:

  • engaged employees perform 20% better than their disengaged counterparts,

  • companies with engaged employees outperform up to 202% better than companies whose employees are not engaged,

  • when customers interact with staff that is engaged and satisfied, they are more likely to have a better, more positive experience, and every positive customer experience increases customer engagement and satisfaction, and

  • Gallup in “State of American Workplace” reports that employees who are engaged are more likely to increase customer service and this increase can result in a 20% increase in sales.  

So, what do companies have to lose by putting their employees first? Nothing!! They have everything to gain. Talent is your key competitive advantage. My question to you today is, “how can you be part of making this happen? What can you do today and everyday as you interact in your company to create an environment where employees and your colleagues feel cared about and invested in for their future and the company’s future?” Finding simple and effective solutions to this challenge will truly make a difference!

Have a GREAT day; Have a GREAT week!

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