R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It’s the Key to Employee Happiness and Retention

Treat your crew like your most valued plumbing customers … and they will be the company’s greatest supporters.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It’s the Key to Employee Happiness and Retention

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Many companies invest heavily to improve the customer experience but sideline employees who are responsible for delivering that experience. What some business leaders forget is that their employees are their first and most important (internal) customers. 

Your crew uses your equipment and follows your service protocols and they know firsthand about your culture. If your employees don’t believe in your business, the quality of their work will be poor. Business success starts with the employee experience. When employees are happy — feel valued, welcome, respected, heard — they will create remarkable experiences for your portable sanitation customers. 

RAISE MORALE

You can’t expect stellar customer service from employees who feel distrusted and discounted. Successful businesses focus on creating memorable employee experiences to keep their staff engaged and happy. Several years ago, Airbnb announced it was appointing a global head of employee experience. The following year, the company topped Glassdoor’s list of the 50 best places to work.

Instead of following the traditional business model, Airbnb creates change and empowers employees at all levels, which has a huge effect on the success of the company, both monetarily and culturally. What are some ways you can have that kind of impact on your workers in the plumbing industry?

Always be quick to recognize and reward the efforts and contributions of employees. Nothing says we value you like showing how much you appreciate them. Employees spend half of their lives at work. It should at least be a pleasant experience. When workers are treated unfairly and as “second class citizens,” the result is decreased employee morale. 

Low morale results in decreased employee productivity. Moreover, dissatisfied employees will share their negative work experiences with family and friends, thus turning away potential customers and employees. The employee experience is influenced by three factors:

1. The physical environment in which employees work

2. The support and tools an employer provides

3. How an employer takes an interest in the well-being and success of employees

I’ll share an example to illustrate my point. A retail store stated their employees were the “heart of the business.” The retail area was clean and well stocked. Aisles were wide and well marked with bright signage. Even the parking lot sparkled — there was rarely any litter seen in customer parking areas. Customers were impressed. 

However, employee space was a different matter. Stock rooms were cluttered and dark. Staff locker rooms were poorly lit and maintained. The break room was bleak, with old, uncomfortable furniture, and trash bins overflowed. Even the vending machines were inadequately stocked with only junk food. 

The message was clear — the company cares more about customers and less about employees.

IT’S YOUR TURN

So how can you ensure you’re treating employees as your most loyal customers? Try these solutions on for size: 

Engage your crew in this conversation. No one knows how to upgrade the employee experience better than your employees themselves. Ask them what they love about working in the company and what they would want you to do differently to reduce frustrations and improve work conditions. Listening is crucial.

Involve employees in decisions. Grant your staff autonomy and flexibility. Show you trust them to do the job you hired them for. Employees want to know their voices are being heard and their opinions matter. Provide consistent communication and a culture that welcomes feedback, and employees won’t feel like they’re kept in the dark. Employees who are involved in any aspect of the company feel ownership.

Be authentic. The driving force behind everything you do should be creating an atmosphere where workers feel like they belong. With a strong purpose, employees can easily see why leaders are doing what they are doing. Take action. Observe closely. Refine systems, policies and practices to honor employees. When people see you are sincere, you will get employee buy-in and win their trust.

Show them you care. Your team members want to be treated as human beings. They have feelings, emotions and personal lives. When employees are facing personal issues (illness, family crisis, bereavement), be empathetic. Inflexibility and insensitivity will cause employees to withdraw and become disengaged.

SHOW RESPECT

When employees are consistently treated with trust, dignity and respect, they respond by giving their best. They care about the business, their colleagues and their customers. Employees demonstrate that care by serving customers wholeheartedly, solving problems quickly and working cooperatively. If you want to get the best from your employees, treat them like your most loyal customers!  

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Brigette Hyacinth is a leadership expert, keynote speaker and author of the book Purpose Driven Leadership. Reach her at brigettehyacinth@mbacaribbean.org.  



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