When you think about it, there’s sort of a catch 22 in running a successful business: you need employees to take care of customers and you need customers to generate the revenue to hire and retain employees.
Customers have generally come first in this on-going loop, but there’s growing evidence that focusing on your employees over your customers can actually generate much bigger gains for your business in the long run.
Why You Should Be Employee-Focused
The site CultureUniversity.com recently posted an article titled, “Focus on Employees and Their Happiness, and Customer Success Will Follow,” which presents very sound reasons for focusing on employee satisfaction.
Author Nic Marks states that a “lack of attention on employees almost certainly undermines the business goal of creating happy customer experiences; because how can employees be expected to care about customers’ experience when they don’t feel the business cares about theirs?”
“Ignore the employees’ experience,” says Marks, “and you will undermine the customers’ experience.”
If putting employees before customers feels a bit counter-intuitive to you, you’re not alone. Yet research is consistently proving the effectiveness of this strategy.
“It’s well known that employees’ attitudes toward the organization have a significant effect on how they approach their jobs and how they treat customers,” according to the MIT Sloan Management Review site. “But recent research also suggests that high levels of employee engagement are associated with higher rates of profitability growth.”
Marks sums it up this way: “By focusing on employee experience, forward thinking companies can start to reap a huge happiness dividend that will benefit not only the employees and customers but also the business itself as it becomes more profitable.”
How To Begin Making The Shift
There are any number of options to create an employee-focused culture in an organization.
In Pat Lynch, Ph.D.’s article published on the BusinessPerformance.com website, “Ten Ways to Create an Employee-Centered Workplace,” he stresses that making this change must be a deliberate choice on the part of business managers:
“Unfortunately, this scenario does not occur naturally. Rather, management must make a conscious decision to create an environment in which everyone and everything is aligned with employees’ success.”
Lynch also reminds readers that these are not “one-time fixes” but are truly a new way of consistently interacting with employees now and in the future. “Short-term ‘solutions’ for long-term issues are seldom effective, and workers can tell the difference.”
As the MIT Sloan Management site puts it, “Companies with great cultures are rewarded with loyal enthusiastic employees who are more productive, more creative and will help you in your talent attraction. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that happy, engaged employees will naturally create great interactions with customers.”
It’s those great interactions that bring old customers back again and again and pull new customers toward a place that offers a great buying experience.
If your company is struggling with profitability and building a satisfied customer base, I challenge you to begin building an employee-focused culture and see what happens. And if your company is doing well, I offer the same challenge to see how much more success you can create by focusing first on the happiness and success of your employees.
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Colleen Slaughter, Your Big, BOLDER Life Mentor, is a speaker, coach, author and founder of Authentic Leadership International. She is passionate about providing ambitious International leaders with the courage, confidence and clarity they need to stop selling themselves short, to claim what they really want in business and in life and to go for it!
Clients say Colleen has helped them find their voice, listen to it, and act on it, and that, by doing so, they have gained a sense of freedom, joy and fulfillment beyond measure.
Colleen’s perspectives have been featured in ABC, NBC, CBS, Enterprising Women and the Woman’s Advantage® Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2012, 2015 and 2016.
If she could be granted a superpower, it would be to vanish people’s feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness and to replace them with the deep understanding of how much they, and what they envision for themselves are important.