The bottom line for any company is profit. However, the strategies a company uses to reach that bottom line vary greatly. One strategy that is increasingly gaining popularity is through employee engagement. Although this may seem like a no brainer to some, a lot of companies believe that higher profitability is what makes employees happy rather than engaging employees by helping them achieve a work-life balance. What experience and studies are showing is that happy employees lead to happy customers, which has a positive impact on the bottom line.
In Sue Shellenbarger’s article, “Rules of Engagement,” she explores the increasing strategy of employee engagement to increase satisfaction, which in turn increases profit. In recent years, companies, such as Xerox and Acuity, have made changes to their workplace policies, which include allowing for flexible hours, improved training, town hall meetings, etc. These companies found that by encouraging their employees’ well being, it enabled employees to be more creative in their job by making processes more efficient and providing better customer service. In other words, if a company takes care of its employees, employees will in turn take care of their customers.
In the second article, “To a United Pilot, The Friendly Skies Are a Point of Pride,” Captain Denny Flanagan, a United Airlines Pilot, is highlighted for going out of his way to provide excellent customer service to his passengers. Although this is an individual effort to increase customer satisfaction as opposed to the systemic changes mentioned in the former article, it nonetheless points to the importance that quality customer service can have on customers. What is interesting to note is that while United supports Capt. Flanagan’s efforts by reimbursing him for buying food for passengers, providing him with business cards, and prizes for on flight giveaways, the company has not made these efforts part of their corporate culture. Instead, an executive from United Airlines states that he “hopes” other employees will follow Capt. Flanagan’s lead. United Airlines is missing the message behind the positive buzz that Capt. Flanagan receives on websites, such as FlyerTalk.com, where passengers discuss their experiences. When employees go out of their way to provide excellent customer service and employee creativity is encouraged, customers will return.
This makes me think about my experiences as a consumer and an employee. As a consumer, customer service is extremely important to me. I will not return to or give my money to stores and companies who do not value me as a customer no matter how fantastic their product is.
As an employee, if I do not feel valued by my company, I am less likely to be productive. I think the thought behind this lack of motivation is, “why should I invest myself into a company that doesn’t invest itself into me?” Of course I will go and do my job, but going above and beyond that requires a relationship of mutual respect. If you value me, I will do whatever it takes to help the company succeed.
The bottom line is that profit may be the bottom line, but companies should not be so quick to forget that employees and customers are the essential ingredients to any company’s success.