How (and Why) You Should Treat Employees Like Customers

by James McDonald on September 22, 2016

From toothpaste to phones to cars, each of us has some degree of brand loyalty. Loyalty is a powerful motivator, and the companies that have invested resources in building loyalty usually are the ones with the greatest success. iStock_91190753_MEDIUM_1.jpg

Your business likely spends a considerable amount of time, effort and budget building loyalty with your customers. But are you doing the same for your employees?

Read on to the learn how (and why) employers should treat employees like customers.

Ask Employees for Feedback

No business leader will deny the importance of customer feedback—how else could a company know whether or not their clients are satisfied? Unfortunately, not every business leader realizes employee feedback is just as crucial to the future of the brand.

Team members should have regular opportunities to provide their honest opinion about every aspect of their employment, either face-to-face or anonymously (whichever the employee prefers).

Employee FeedbackThe next step is critical (and often ignored): Once responses are collected, the management team must actually do something with this information. If customer survey results consistently showed interest in a feature your brand’s product or service was missing, it would be unwise to not investigate further. Your customers would feel ignored and likely find a company that could better suit their needs. Similarly, if many people voice the same concern and it isn’t addressed, employees not only will be upset about the lack of change but also will be irritated they took the time to express how they felt for what appears to be no reason.

Just as customer feedback allows businesses to improve their product or service and, in turn, increase customer retention, employee feedback gives employers the opportunity to learn how to provide the best experience for their workforce and, consequently, increase employee retention.

Reward Commitment and Loyalty

There’s a reason grocery stores and restaurants have membership programs—they work. Customers appreciate when their loyalty is acknowledged and respond by giving additional business to the companies that show recognition.

While your organization may not be able to offer Google-level perks, there are many ways to show your employees you appreciate their commitment to the company. For example, you can give referral bonuses or yearly increases in PTO. Even small gestures can have a big impact on employee satisfaction. You could set aside budget for quarterly dinners or happy hours for the teams that had outstanding performance or allow the team to work remotely for a day. Try to provide different options and let the employees choose how they would like to be rewarded.

The more satisfied your employees are, the longer their tenure and the fewer resources you have to invest in recruiting.

Get Employees Involved

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after the basic requirements of survival—air, water and food—and physical safety are satisfied, the next most important need is to feel a sense of belonging. Humans are biologically programmed to feel stronger connections to associations and organizations when they have an active role in the decision-making for the group.

Global brands often run contests inviting their fans to vote on new products (for example, the 1995 and 2002 M&M’s Color Campaigns) because the companies understand that when customers are encouraged to take part in these types of decisions, they are fostering the idea of, “We’re all in this together.”

Including employees in decision-making processes whenever possible creates a sense of ownership, helping employees feel invested in the company. They will care more deeply about their contributions to the organization as well as how the brand is perceived. Whether the decision is minor or major, employees appreciate knowing their voice is being heard.

Treating your employees like customers by asking for their feedback, rewarding their commitment to the company and involving them in decision-making helps create a workplace that is attractive to both existing team members and potential job candidates. Higher employee retention can mean big savings, especially considering that, depending on the position, replacing a single employee can cost up to $40,000. Most importantly, a happy workforce leads to happy customers.

An efficient and effective workforce needs an efficient and effective workspace. Download The Essential Guide to Space Management Software to learn how space optimization can boost productivity.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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