Many large scale studies have proven the connection between employee engagement and financial performance. The correlation is undeniable. If you are running your own business now, or just starting up a new company, do a little research on employee engagement. As Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines said, “There is one key to profitability and stability during either a boom or bust economy: employee morale.” As the saying goes, “the soft stuff brings hard results.” Are your employees engaged?
If you don’t know exactly what is meant by “employee engagement” just do a little experiment. For the next week, take careful note of the behaviors and attitudes of employees in any business you walk into wherein YOU are the customer. Are employees helpful? Are they complaining about having to work or are they engaging in friendly conversation with customers? Do you get ignored or do employees seem to WANT to help you? If you have a question or request, are you able to get a satisfactory answer? Do employees seem more anxious to get off of work or to meet your needs? Can you even find someone to answer your question? It’s hard to put your finger right on employee engagement but you definitely can feel when it’s there and feel when it’s not. What are customers feeling when they walk in YOUR business?
How many times have you been in a customer service situation where you’re frustrated by the fact that the employee you are dealing with is clearly powerless to do anything but follow rigid rules? More importantly, they don’t seem to care that they cannot meet your needs. Rigid rules do not engage employees and frustrate customers. Let me give an example. The other day I was at Subway, the fast food chain restaurant across from my office. My sister asked for a bowl of soup and requested some bread to go along with the soup. As we looked at the employee we could see about 500 loaves of bread in racks behind her. However, we were told that she could NOT serve bread with soup, only with a sandwich. To make matters worse, the employee came across as if she was irritated by the request. She didn’t smile or make eye contact or do anything to indicate she cared about customer service. She was just earning a paycheck. We ordered a turkey sub minus the turkey, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise…….and soup. Unengaged employees who must follow rigid and ridiculous rules make customers like me tell everyone I know about the stupid rule and then post a blog about it.
Try to experience your business from a customer’s perspective. I was in a Walmart a couple days ago and can only hope that if the manager had witnessed the incredibly poor customer service and unengaged attitudes I dealt with there, several employees would be fired. If you aren’t paying attention to employee engagement, you’re losing customers and losing money. You may not be measuring this, but it IS happening.
In our next blog posting, we will continue with some easy to implement employee engagement techniques.