“The customer is always right” is an all too familiar mantra famous for putting staff at the back of a very long line of clients. But in actuality, the most successful businesses in the world think quite differently to this, believing rather, that your workforce is in fact the true value generator in any business. In other words, the ability to leverage employee value and create job satisfaction now plays a more critical role than ever in a global economy. Richard Branson advises, “Loyal employees create loyal customers, who in turn create happy shareholders. So if you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s really that simple”. So how do you maintain a good HR policy that produces highly productive and passionate people?
We’ve all seen it: An employee starts off as a star but then gradually productivity and attitude deteriorate. This is the all-too-familiar effect of hiring someone based on résumé alone. A key pressure point lies in equally understanding if there is a mutual cultural fit. So while skills and experience are major factors to consider, don’t overlook crucial qualitative matters like personality complement and synergy with the environment. Moreover, tapping into a candidate’s value system will give you a lot of insight into how the brand resonates with them on a personal level. This will weigh heavily on how likely they’ll be to instinctively live the brand and practice its ethos.
Help them be better
A business that is experienced by its employees as investing in its people is a business that will enjoy reciprocity and mutual respect. Training is an investment in a good staff compliment, communicating that you see your staff as future assets. Further to this, well-trained workers require less monitoring and can be left to take initiative. Interestingly, Ritz-Carlton's ‘Service Values’ empower their people to create memorable and personal guest experiences allocating each staff member a special budget to enhance a guest’s experience if and when they see an opportunity. ‘Empowered employee’ equals ‘happy customer’.
Help them understand their own potential
Many employees don’t understand what is expected of them or even how to strive for more. By simply outlining each person’s ideal performance areas, and maintaining an open dialogue, you can ascertain where they visualize themselves in the company and provide tangible goals to can help them get there. Limiting growth can result in unfulfilled employees who may go elsewhere to grow. Remember that progress doesn’t always mean a promotion; it could equally take the form of education or enhanced benefits.
Don’t play favourites
When applying rules and setting boundaries (key to any well-run organization) it’s important to apply a one-size-fits-all strategy. While some employees may have earned unique privileges, there should still be standard HR policies that apply to everyone. Giving one employee a warning for being late but allowing another to roll in past 10 am is a quick-fire route to frustrated employees and unnecessary power struggles.
Leave your door open
An open-door policy means your people understand that you can come to them and they can come to you. Most employees find it very difficult to complain, particularly about their direct managers. Consider an anonymous communication channel so that if you don’t have an HR representative, your people still have an opportunity to voice their grievances or frustrations without feeling intimidated.
The new pecking order
When you put your employees first, everything else falls into place. Your people will be happy to show up and contribute as much as possible day in and out. You’ll have passion in common, and those positive feelings will transfer over to every customer interaction. Essentially, by putting your employees first, your customers automatically become a close second.