Pleasing customers or protecting employees: what is most important in your organization?

“Employers need to look to the future based on how they treat and support their employees in the present. ”

Employers often bend over backwards to meet the needs of their customers, but tend to be much less flexible when it comes to their employees. Whether it is to please the customer or protect the employee, the vast majority of companies will almost invariably choose the former. After all, the customer is always right, isn’t he?

No more. The pandemic has given us all a break to rethink what we want out of our lives and careers. Many employees have concluded that the old way of doing things is no longer good enough. Workers, especially those of the younger generations, want more flexibility, more autonomy and yes, more protection against unfavorable working conditions.

And if they don’t get it, they go away and don’t come back.

Author Dr Toby A. Travis, who views the current workforce crisis as a confidence issue, believes many people are in no rush to return to work because they feel their needs will be trampled upon in the process. mad rush to serve the customer. “Valuing customers or customers over employees breeds a lack of trust,” says Dr. Travis.

The constant feeling of being undervalued and even oppressed in turn fosters the rise of “rage stop“, a term that originally described a player leaving a game in frustration, but has now broadened to include stomping at work.

With the record shortage of talent plaguing corporate America, it’s clear that something needs to change. And it starts with an organization-wide paradigm shift.

Ranking of stakeholders

To reduce turnover and attract new talent, Dr. Travis believes employers must operate from a core belief that values ​​employees above all other stakeholder groups. The ideal ranking looks like this:

  • Priority group n ° 1: employees. Highly supported employees translate into increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • Priority group n ° 2: Customers. Greater customer satisfaction translates into increased sales and market share, attracting new customers.
  • Priority group n ° 3: New customers. The expansion of customer base translates into increased income for owners.
  • Priority group n ° 4: Owners. The increase in revenues translates into opportunities for continuous improvement.

When business leaders fail to keep these stakeholder priorities in order, a lack of trust ensues. “For example, when leaders, in an effort to grow and develop the business, place the needs and wants of new customers (priority group # 3) on the well-being, success and support of their employees ( priority group # 1), this breeds distrust of company leadership, “says Dr. Travis.” A lack of confidence in company management reduces employee engagement and higher turnover rates and has a negative impact on the company’s objectives. ”

Philosophically, leaders must believe that employees are the lifeblood of the company and value them as such. Then they need to put their money where they say it by developing policies, procedures and protocols based on that belief to protect employees from overwork and burnout.

One example Dr Travis cited is of restaurateurs cutting back hours of service or removing tables to allow for greater social distancing to protect staff. “They may, in fact, suffer temporary financial loss,” he says. “But the lasting and residual benefits obtained by supporting staff will pay them dividends in terms of loyalty and productivity for years to come.

“Employees will remember how they were protected and valued during this crisis, which will pass. Employers should look to the future based on how they treat and support their employees in the present.

Evaluate your culture

Dr. Travis warns that putting employees first may require a complete paradigm shift in organizational management. “This means employers need to prioritize when meeting the needs of their organizational stakeholders – employees, owners, clients and potential customers. “

To assess your organizational priorities, ask these questions:

  • Which of these groups (employees, owners, clients and potential customers) and their associated desires should we most value and support to best meet the mission of the organization?
  • How well do we meet the needs and wants of customers?
  • Is financial reward for homeowners or investors our number one priority?
  • Or do we really value the well-being and success of employees? If so, how do you show it?

Dr. Travis says that when management places its needs or those of customers above the needs of employees, it lowers the quality and environment of the organization. But when employees are valued above all other stakeholders, the result is a dynamic and positive work environment. “Additionally, leaders experience a dramatically increased level of confidence in their leadership,” says Dr. Travis.

Employees first

Valuing customers over employees may allow the business to survive for a short time, but eventually it will backfire. In our post-pandemic workplace, employers who throw their employees under the bus to meet customer demands will soon have neither. Rumor has it and there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere. Reward and invest in your people now, before you have them.

When employees come first, everything else will follow.

Aubrey L. Morgan