In the world of business, many famously claim that the customer is king. But little known to business owners is a simple fact that the often overlooked employees are even more necessary. More often than not, the employees are the interface between the firm and the customers.
Sir Richard Branson said, "Take care of your people, and they would take care of your customers". It is tough to argue with him on that one. With only 61% of the workforce worldwide reporting to be satisfied with their jobs according to a 2014 Aon Hewitt survey, the cost of doing business remains high with a less-than-pleasant employee turnover. When a company has fulfilled employees, they will call in sick less often, stay on the job, own their roles and tasks, and productivity will be over the roof. More so, customers will also come back as they know the person on the other end of the line cares for them.
It doesn't take much to start caring for your employees. The first recommendation in doing this is to be more attentive to what employees want, assess them and implement it, if possible. Otherwise, take the time to explain why it is not possible. Gary Vaynerchuk says next to him as the CEO of his group of companies is the head of human resources - not the CFO. He says he does this because of his realization of how important the happiness of his people is. Many times, employees want to be rewarded. This can be done in form of a bonus/compensation, a day off or appreciating them before the entire team so that it encourages productivity across board. Either way, if founders and CEOs spent less time being more interested in results and more on the people who create those results, the results automatically take care of themselves.
Another strong recommendation in treating your employees right is by seeing them as internal customers. This can be possible if we change our mindset that we are doing employees a favour to “serving them” by ensuring that they are contented and happy on the job, which would increase productivity. “You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.” A philosophy by Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz.. If we used the same principles and philosophies to enhance the client's experience in the workplace, employees would find more meaning in their work. As Matt Tenney, author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons From A Prison, A Monastery, And A Boardroom, puts it, “Leaders who are able to create sustainable, high-performance cultures over the long term see their primary purpose as serving the employees on their teams–not just the other way around. These ‘servant leaders’ realize that when people know we truly care about them–and not just about what we can get out of them–they tend to go the extra mile.”
We all need to remember that it is human beings that are working for us - real people with families, bills, health issues, and dreams - basically the whole spectrum that defines the human experience for each person. It is a good thing to develop empathy and relate to them as such. A time will come when technology will dominate a larger percentage of the workforce, and at that point, no one will have to be worried about serving employees rightly. But for now, it is our duty as entrepreneurs to understand that if customers are king then employees are Emperor.
As an employer, do you agree?
Leadership is not just about giving energy ... it's unleashing other people's energy.” – Paul Polman