WHY THE MOST SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES PUT THEIR EMPLOYEES FIRST
Ask any business what the most important component of their organization is, and chances are they’ll respond with the same answer: customers. It only makes sense, after all, because without customers willing to purchase your product or service and therefore willing to support you financially, your business doesn’t stand a chance of making it off the ground. This is why so many business owners are bending backwards to put their customers first, but we propose a different position: instead of your customer, put your employees first.
More and more businesses are realizing that when employee well-being and satisfaction is a top priority, they are more likely to perform better, which in turn generates more sales and therefore higher profits. In summary: happy employees=happy customers.
Hermle’s 7 Guiding Principles show just how important the people who work for us are:
- Integrity: We uphold the highest standards of integrity in all of our actions.
- Quality: We are committed to delivering only the best quality products and services.
- Customer Commitment: We strive to provide experiences that leave our customers happy.
- A Drive To Succeed: We exhibit a strong drive to succeed in every aspect of our business.
- Respect for People: We value our people, encourage their development, and reward their performance.
- Good Citizenship: We are good citizens in the communities in which we live and work.
- Teamwork: We work together to meet the needs of our customers with the collective goal to help the company grow.
- Personal Accountability: We are personally accountable for ensuring each of our guiding principles are upheld.
Businesses can’t succeed without the hard work and dedication of its employees. That’s why it is crucial to invest adequate resources into ensuring that your employees are being taken care of. Here are 5 ways you can do that:
BUILD AN AWESOME WORK ENVIRONMENT
Company cultures are strongly correlated with employee happiness. The more appealing and enjoyable the work environment is, the happier your employees will be. While not every happy employee will turn into an engaged and productive one, it’s not possible to be engaged when your employee is unhappy.
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow published a framework model on what he believed motivated people to seek fulfillment in all aspects of their lives. The basic ideology is that basic needs must first be met before higher, unselfish goals can be pursued and achieved. This model has been used by businesses, organizations, schools, and life coaches when understanding what makes their people tick, and how to help navigate people from where they are, to where you need them to be.
- By looking at this hierarchy of needs diagram, we can see that until employees feel safe in their workplace and develop friendships, they are unable to perform the higher levels that include achievement, and the top tier levels of creativity, spontaneity, and problem solving, all of which are crucial to a functioning business.
Don’t forget that your employees are representatives of your brand as well—behind closed doors, they talk about their work life with their friends and families, which means sustained job dissatisfaction will ultimately shed negative light on your business and eventually have an impact on your reputation and sales. Would you be likely to give your money to a business that didn’t value its employees (or that gave you a horrible customer service experience because their unhappiness was tangible), or would you prefer to shop elsewhere?
Whether your employee is fresh from school or has been working for your for 20 years, they have something to learn. Professional development opportunities are a major component of employee benefits. In fact, 60% of millennials (the age group of young professionals born just before 2000 that make up a large portion of the developing workforce as more baby boomers retire) would chose a job at a company that provided opportunities for growth and professional development over a company that simply offered a regular pay raise schedule. What this means is that workers value training as much—if not more than—their regular salary. Yet, only 25% of employees feel that their organization offers enough in the way of opportunities for professional development.
In order to put your employees first, you need to invest in their careers. Don’t just allow, encourage, your employees to attend relevant trade shows, conferences, and training seminars. If you don’t have room in your budget, start a mentorship program for senior employees to train younger or newer workers the secrets of their trade.
GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES THE TOOLS THEY NEED
We talked about this a bit in our previous post, Why Hermle Is Excited About Unhappy Customers—And Why All Business Owners Should Be, Too but we can’t emphasize this enough: help your employees help you by giving them the tools and permissions they need to properly do the job or task assigned to them. Nearly 70% of employees say that it’s difficult to get all their work done in any given week, which comes down to employees feeling overworked and potentially not having the tools they need to do the job in the first place. Especially in customer service fields, allowing your employee to help a customer as quickly and efficiently as they can without needing to jump through multiple levels of permissions leads to a smoother interaction with customers. If the customer ends the call feeling relieved and satisfied that their problem was resolved quickly, think of how much stress you’ve just saved your employee. Less stress means your employee is then able to handle more (potentially unhappy) customers without feeling burnout or losing that charm that makes them the best representative for your brand in the first place.
If your technology is out of date, consider how much time (and therefore money through the wages you’re paying out) you’re losing when your employee has to sit and wait for something to load, or troubleshoot a problem for hours just to accomplish a simple task. Investing in the proper tools and technology—collaboration tools, customer service management systems, cloud storage, mobile devices, etc—your employees suddenly have what they need to work as a team and to work efficiently with a reduced chance of technological error. Investing in the tools your employees need to do their job shows that you care about them and not just the bottom line of what they’re able to accomplish.
SOLICIT EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK REGULARLY
To truly put your employees first, you need to ask them what they’re thinking on a regular basis. You can herd employees into a board meeting to ask them, but chances are, unless you’ve fostered that positive environment we’ve talked about in stage 1, they won’t feel safe enough to come forward with negative feedback without fear of repercussion. A great tool is to regularly send out anonymous surveys through tools like Google Forms through your workplace email and reassure employees that their responses are confidential and will not be penalized. Instead, reiterate your goal of wanting to foster and improve a positive workplace where your employees feel valued.
RECOGNIZE YOUR EMPLOYEES’ GREAT WORK
When you work hard and have great results, it’s only natural that you want someone to tell you they notice and appreciate your efforts. Don’t take your team’s labor for granted. Recognize hard work consistently and provide praise when it’s warranted. Take caution to not overpraise, however—studies show that ingenuine praise is recognizable and will have an opposite effect in which morale and production decrease as a result. When someone does something truly great, that is when praise is acceptable and will have the highest impact.
When employees come first, it’s easy to see how everything else will fall into place. They will love working for you, and those positive feelings will carry over to every aspect of their work, from production, sales, customer service, and office management. Each aspect of your team is vital to the overall success of your company, so it’s high time to treat it like the asset that it is.