Putting Your Employees First

May 16, 2016

There is a fundamental change underway in the business world. The mentality of putting the customer first is fading to a new reality. Companies are beginning to put their employees first. The primary battle being fought by many companies is not for customers but for talent. The conversations I am having with CEOs have shifted in the last few years from marketing to talent. There is a lot of chatter out there about this as well. Richard Branson has been espousing this philosophy for years.

So the primary question most CEOs are trying to answer is: how can we attract and retain the right people?

I raised chickens a while back. Here’s what I noticed. The happier the chickens the better the eggs which meant happy customers. As the “boss” of these chickens I recognized that I wasn’t being served as a "customer" if I failed to keep the chickens happy. The more freedom they had to do their jobs, finding and eating bugs, getting exercise, etc, the more eggs they produced. And the eggs were better. Dark yellow, custardy yolks. Happy chickens = better eggs = happy customer = happy boss. Chicken

Not to compare your employees to chickens but they aren’t much different in this respect. If they are happy, which means doing the work they are uniquely qualified to do, they will vastly out-produce disengaged and unhappy chickens, uh, I mean employees.

No business can ignore this truth. If you don’t have people who love what they do then it won’t be long before the customer feels it. Once that happens things can go south fast.

Putting your employees first is transformative. It means you see your brand and marketing efforts differently. Your primary audience becomes your employees. Very few businesses think or act this way right now. Even though I believe this, I still struggle with consistently bringing it to life at our company. Just as we often forget to take care of ourselves when we are caring for others, so do businesses that neglect their employees in the constant pursuit of customers.

I'm not proposing that you shouldn’t focus on great customer experiences. This is absolutely critical. But those experiences are built by your people. The foundation of your brand experience is your employee experience. Put that first and the rest will follow.

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