· 2 min read · Features

Employees: look after them and they'll look after everything else


Customers are king. Without them a business would not survive. However, I often think we should re-word this phrase as our employees are king too.

Current research continues to show businesses still have a way to go to creating an engaged workforce. Therefore it's not surprising that customer satisfaction rates have dropped to their lowest level since 2010, according to the Institute of Customer Service. It is our employees who liaise directly with customers. It is our employees we expect to look after our customers. If staff are not engaged, how can we expect customers to be happy? 

This doesn’t sound like rocket science, right? So why aren't businesses doing more to look after their employees? 

My theory is simple. Too many companies are taking a textbook approach to managing their workforce. The businesses that are succeeding are those that are trying something new. They are adding colour to their employee campaigns. In fact, they are enriching their workers’ lives. They are making life better for their staff – inside and outside of work.

“How?” you may ask. These organisations enable their workforces to master their professional and personal skills, give them the freedom to get on with their jobs, listen to their ideas and let them implement them, and finally recognise hard work with meaningful rewards. I realise that businesses’ budgets are tight and not every company can offer frivolous reward and recognition packages. If this is the case a reward can be as simple as a verbal thank you and certificate to say well done. It’s surprising how impactful face-to-face recognition can be.

I’m aware all of this is easy to say, yet seems like a minefield to implement. Nearly every day HR directors ask me 'where do I start?' Because of this, my team and I have developed a three-step approach to simplify launching an employee campaign – Purpose, Empowerment and Meaningful Reward:

  • Purpose – identify why you want to launch a recognition programme, and have a clear goal you want to reach. Get the full backing of the board and CEO and make sure all of your employees understand and believe in this goal 
  • Empowerment – empower employees by including them in the initial design of the scheme, how it is to operate, who makes decisions, and how rewards are communicated. It’s essential staff can nominate their colleagues to be recognised too 
  • Meaningful Reward – you want a prize to create memories that will stay with your people. These memories last a lot longer than a pot of money. People will talk openly about this kind of prize too, which in turns encourages other team members to do well 

There is actually one last element that mustn’t be forgotten – communication. Having done the easy part of the three steps this is what cements a campaign together. It gets people excited and kept interested in it throughout its life. 

These steps will give you building blocks to create a successful employee campaign. Persevere with your ideas and the results will pay off. Business is changing and will continue to change, but look after your staff and they’ll look after everything else.

Bill Alexander is CEO at Red Letter Days for Business, a corporate reward and recognition provider. He supports Jabra’s Super Agent competition that recognises and rewards outstanding contact centre agents. Visit www.jabrasuperagent.com