Why You Should Treat Your Employees as Customers

A recent Gallup study, as reported in Inc., has shown that only 30 percent of American workers are engaged at work, something that is costing the nation up to $550 billion per year in lost productivity. Healthcare costs and absenteeism at work only add up to the costs every business has to cover, and there’s currently a substantial need to improve employee satisfaction.

The corporate world measures performance in an attempt to calculate profits and make future predictions on the development of a business. While this can be effective, as it provides the drive towards getting work done, evidence shows that it is killing productivity. In fact, it’s detrimental to employee engagement. Considering that only 13 percent of the global workforce is highly engaged as studies find, discontent and disengaged employees currently represent more than half of the world population.

Measuring Engagement

Entrepreneurs have long been trying to find out what’s the most effective way to measure employee engagement. An interesting  goes as far as discussing the idea of metrics and how accurately these can measure the less tangible areas of work, including company culture and employee satisfaction. What people over at Findmyshift propose is that the best metric of employee engagement is asking your employees the right questions. However, this should be done not as part of an annual survey, which is considered to be outdated for the modern corporate world, but more often: every couple of weeks, if necessary.

This new approach to measuring employee engagement is backed up by recent findings from Deloitte. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, the secret to unlocking employee potential is found in the way companies choose to view and approach their employers. If they merely see people as machines, then that basically means they ignore any evidence of dysfunction.

So in order to increase employee engagement, the report supports the idea that “employees are now like customers; companies have to consider them volunteers, not just workers”. If employees are seen as customers, there would be an increase in the effort employers put into keeping them informed and engaged, and encouraging them to return and invest in the “product” a.k.a. their work. Also, employees are volunteers in a way because they choose to work for that particular company every day. But this means that they can leave just as easily if they find work with a different organization that offers a better company culture.

This should help tackle important issues in regards to how an organization operates and can help monitor performance and productivity. Also, it will allow employers to find and unlock the talent of their employees, enforcing leadership and innovation.

While introducing you to the “new world of work”, this report provides a great insight into the changes that could shape a more efficient relationship between the modern employee and employer.

What Do Employees Want?

Do you know what employees want? Well, they generally aren’t asking for much but instead call for recognition, more flexibility and independence on how they carry out their work. However, Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, a contributor on Forbes, argues that what engages employees varies depending on where they come from – their backgrounds and location – as well as their personalities. As such, Vorhauser-Smith suggests that employee engagement can be reinforced through increasing the “social connections happening in organizations and aligning work experiences with employees’ cultural needs”.

This would result in entrepreneurs providing a more humanized working environment, where employees would feel like themselves and would be more willing to engage themselves to not only carrying out the job but also enjoying the process. It would be like providing them motivation, or rather a purpose, to do their job. As such, it will allow employees to work easier and more efficiently.

Reflect on Your Practice

But again, how can it be measured? What can an entrepreneur do to increase the participation of his employees? Introduce teambuilding activities? That would be an idea, but how effective can they really be? How about surveying job satisfaction? While this should help you get an insight into employees’ minds, you can’t always ensure that they will be honest in their responses, even when the survey respects their rights and preserves anonymity.

As the aforementioned report shows, the problem is found in the way employers regard their employees. If they solely see them as “tools of productivity” rather than human beings, then the organization is obviously hurting. HR director for Penguin Random House UK Neil Morrison also expresses his disbelief in surveys, stating that employers can run as many as they want but they will always fail to get to the grips of what their employers are experiencing. As such, Morrison suggests that employers need to ask themselves a single question: “How much do I know about my team?”

This approach encourages each entrepreneur to reflect upon their practice, which makes sense considering that change can only come if you yourself are willing to change first. So in an attempt to find out what’s working or not, employers should focus on what they need and align their findings with what their workers want. By incorporating Gallup’s Q12 Items into their management system, as FindmyShift suggests, they will get the answers they need from their employees to cover their needs across a wide spectrum. This will show employees that their main concerns regarding professional development and fulfillment have been identified, that their bosses have their back, and that things are working out for the better.

If employers want to help their companies grow, they first need to help their employees. The best advice ever given would be to treat employees like they aren’t employees but rather like ordinary people with whom they need to build dedication and loyalty, just like with customers, and work with them as a member of a group of volunteers. Learn what they want and why they need it, and make sure you give them what they need, while still retaining those elements that make up your business.

How would you approach making your employees “fully engaged” at work? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!