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“The customer is always right. Customer satisfaction and customer service is the most important value in our business. The customers’ needs are always the priority…”

Aren’t these the phrases most businesses consistently preach? Of course, customers are important. They’re the reason your business is still running. But the truth is, before you can make your customers happy, you have to make your employees happy first.

How many times have you been served by a rude sales assistant and later observed their manager is just as rude if not worse in their behaviour towards their employee? Chances are if the employee does not feel valued, they’re unlikely to value their input towards the success of the business. Or worse, they may not care about the success of the business.

Employee satisfaction and fulfillment is important. Period. There’s not two ways about it. If you want a better work environment, increased productivity and loyal team members, start focusing on your employees.

Productivity

The argument that happier employees are more productive has been around for some time now. Research conducted in Britain deduced from their experiment that happier employees do in fact show increased productivity. Boosting morale and encouraging employee engagement increases confidence and raises feelings of responsibility towards the success of the business.

One of the best examples is John Lewis. Not merely employees, their staff are titled partners of the business. Their emphasis on their partners and their responsibility towards the success of the business appears to increases employee engagement and satisfaction. The Institute for Public Policy Research have suggested that other businesses should adopt their co-operative model which includes employees receiving a share of the stores annual profits. That’s probably the reason why they consistently perform well in employee satisfaction surveys. Keeping their employees happy seems to be paying off for John Lewis, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Incentives and Motivation

If you expect your employees to deliver challenging projects, hit difficult targets and show passion for the business, then you have to keep them motivated. As the owner of the business, a senior executive or shareholder of the company, your motivations of it’s success are pretty obvious (more money – duh). Not all businesses can make their employees partners, and motivating with cash is not always an option. Thankfully, money isn’t always the best motivator. Employees are humans, not money making machines. So, motivating them with non-cash incentives can be more personal and more effective. Employees value flexible working hours, health care benefits and a positive working environment, so you don’t always have to splurge the cash to show you care.

People Talk

With the rise of websites such as ‘Glassdoor’, you’d be naïve to think that your employees don’t talk about the company. Back in the day employees would talk to their friends at the pub or at social gatherings about their bosses. Now, they have the opportunity to post their views on the internet with total anonymity to the entire world (Troll alert). More importantly, potential employees are already researching your company on these sites when making their judgement about your business.

If you want the best talent, they’re not always competing for a job. You may be the one competing to be the employer they chose to work for. The rising cases of young talent turning down jobs at Apple, Google and Microsoft (sounds unbelievable, right?), shows that it will take a lot to make some people chose your company over working for themselves.

If you want your business to grow, you need to hire talented individuals. For that, you have to be desirable. With countless businesses offering fantastic perks, both financial and non-cash incentives, you’ve got to keep up with the crowd.

Employees can and will leave you

Often what prevents employers from even considering the importance of focusing on staff is the assumption that they won’t leave the business. With job hunting a gruelling process, financial constraints and bills to pay, many assume that employees need their job. But the reality is, employees do not necessarily need ‘their’ job, they need ‘a’ job. If they’re not satisfied with their current employer, they can find another who may offer much more. Whilst money is often a popular factor in changing jobs, many leave because of too much stress, a negative work environment and even a bad boss. All factors which cost nothing to change.

Gone are the days when staff would spend most of their lives in one company. Statistics are suggesting the average person today changes jobs approximately 10 to 15 times. Thanks to networking and sites such as LinkedIn, job searching has become an easier task. This trend is only set to increase, with Millennials already showing trends of increasing ‘job hopping’ for better salaries and development. So if you want to get the best talent and keep them – you better make sure they’re happy!

Employees make your business – both the failures and the success. Though it’s easy and still incredibly important to keep your customers a priority, you can’t forget your employees along the way. Keep your employees happy and you will be happy. Simple.

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