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Why treating employees like customers will help your business soar

The way your employees feel about your organisation can be the reason your business sinks or swims. So give them a reason to care.

Employees are the frontline of your business, communicating with your customers and representing you on a day-to-day basis. The service your people provide and the relationships they build are key to your success – so you need to ensure they understand, believe in and are proud of the business they are a part of. And that starts with making sure they feel valued.

Forward-thinking companies have been doing this for years. Championed by some of the world’s most famous business thinkers from Richard Branson to Herbert D. Kelleher, it’s an approach that hinges on a simple mantra – treat your employees like customers.


Listen and learn

So what does that mean? Well, a good business knows that customer loyalty drives sales, and it’s the same with employees. Loyalty is established when someone feels connected to your brand – when they identify with your values, feel like you listen to them and care about what they think.

"The key to business success is employee engagement. It’s closing that gap between management and the work force," explains Alan Morris, Specialist for Investors in People Wales. “If an organisation can involve its people in decision making processes, employees at every level will have a sense of ownership from the outset, which means they are far more likely to care about how the business comes across and the contribution they make to that.”


Good people, great business

Involving your staff at every level is a sure-fire way to boost your company culture; which can often be an organisation’s most valuable asset. A healthy, active and collaborative staff community will present a cohesive, welcoming and magnetic proposition to customers. But it takes work.

Whether it’s empowering employees to fulfil their potential through individual training, providing a safe and secure environment for them to air any grievances or simply putting time and resource into showing them just how much you value them with impactful reward and recognition schemes – the atmosphere you create internally will shape the image you project externally.

ScotRail is a testament to that. By shifting its focus onto customers and in turn its employees, ScotRail has introduced training programmes, leadership development and recognition initiatives which have seen the organisation achieve IIP Gold accreditation, experience a significant boost in customer satisfaction and reduce staff turnover. “Because employees are being developed further, are more involved and more empowered, it’s a much more enriched environment for people to work in,” says HR Director Julie McComasky. “This has helped us engage with our people in order to undertake the transformation we wanted.”

Hospitality worker, Christina Scott, sums it up. “I love my job. I love being out on the train meeting our customers, because I feel that ScotRail has invested in me as a person. It’s a reflection of the company investing in me and in their future.”


Employees at the heart of growth

From the inside out, the IIP Gold accredited Northumbria Probation Trust’s programme Progress Through People has championed an emphasis on listening to employees and giving exceptional ‘service’ to help steer the future of their organisation together. With staff surveys and 360 feedback groups, NPT put focus on key themes for improvement, boosting employee engagement with a view to the combined future of the Trust. And it’s worked: NPT are currently ranked within the Top 10 Employer of Choice – and are now the highest scoring Trust in the country for quality of service.

Specialist for Investors in People South, Lance Cross, has also seen the benefit that focusing on positive employee experiences can have first-hand. His work with community-based housing management social enterprise, Alliance Homes Group, has seen more focus on involving employees in decisions and responding to their viewpoints. “They agree improvements to the service they provide internally; in just the same way as the customer-facing teams do in response to the survey results they receive,” he explains. Find out more about Alliance Housing Group’s approach to involving people in defining their values, vision and behaviours.


Employee satisfaction

Striving to achieve employee satisfaction in the same way you would customer satisfaction is something The Landmark London knows all about. As a Gold accredited Investors in People company, the hotel works hard to ensure its employees have a positive work experience every day – because the senior team knows it will impact on performance.

“Our ultimate goal when we started looking at people management was to change the culture of the hotel from a directive approach to an inclusive approach, looking at how people practices could include the team in the running of our business,” explains The Landmark London’s director of HR Nicola Forshaw. “By getting our employees more involved in the running of the business we boosted team commitment, which improved the guest experience.”

The Landmark London invested in everything from individual training and support to company-wide people management strategies and reward initiatives for employees – improving the team’s ability to perform while making them feel valued. “The Landmark believed in me, that I could work, that I could improve myself,” says Food and Beverage Supervisor Agata Oleniacz. “I’m so proud of being part of The Landmark. I love it.”

“Being a five-star hotel, we look after our external customers very well, but we wanted to put the focus quite strongly on our team members too,” says Michael Blin, Associate Director of Sales. “It means that not only are our team members happy to recommend this as a place to work, but also as a brand that people will hear about at a national and global level.”


Take this further:

Find out more about how to build your brand through your people with our How To guides on reward and recognition, improving workplace culture and involving your employees in the bigger picture.