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Engaged Employees, Engaged Customers

Thinking Bigger Guide 2013-14

Post Categories: HR, Management, Thinking Bigger Guide 2013-14

A recent report suggests that 70 percent of American workers are “emotionally disconnected” at work, with nearly one in five employees “actively disengaged.” Indeed, seven in 10 Americans report hating their jobs or feeling uninspired by them.

This majority of employees is collectively costing companies $550 billion per year in lost productivity. Many spread their negativity to customers, co-workers, vendors, distributors and other players in the supply chain.

To gain a better perspective of what $550 billion in lost productivity actually “looks” like, consider the following analogy.

It was recently reported that replacing Kansas City International Airport could cost about $1.2 billion. Our lost productivity figure of $550 billion is enough to build 453 upscale, state-of-the-art airports—every year. Of course, that $550 billion represents a loss or an inability to produce the desired results, so let’s reapply our imagination to demolishing all 453 of those new airports year after year. Feel that? It makes one want to cringe because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Engagement Enhances Performance

The good news is that companies that work at engagement can achieve much stronger performance.

“When organizations successfully engage their customers and their employees,” a different Gallup study found, “they experience a 240 percent boost in performance-related outcomes compared with an organization that has neither engaged employees nor engaged customers.”

Many businesses have been able to increase engagement levels by adopting a stronger emphasis on civility in the workplace—by making it clear that civility is a core value to be demonstrated in daily operations and in customer engagement.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, The Price of Incivility, put some very hard numbers on what happens when incivility is left to go unabated. Here is just a sampling of what they discovered:

» 48 percent of workers who have been on the receiving end of incivility decrease their work effort

» 47 percent intentionally decreased the time spent at work

» 38 percent intentionally decreased the quality of their work

» 25 percent admitted to taking their frustration out on the customer

Just think about that last statistic: Having disengaged customers will ultimately affect your customers, too, and that’s a huge problem. As influential management expert Peter Drucker put it, “There is only one valid purpose for a business, and that is to create a customer. The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. He alone gives employment.”

Kindness and Care Can Encourage Growth

Consistent growth is not accidental nor is it sustainable without a proper focus. With the many pulls on the entrepreneur’s time and attention, he or she can be easily distracted from profitability, sales, customer commitment and other key metrics.

None of these measures can be satisfactorily achieved, much less sustained, without active employee and customer engagement. Entrepreneurs can encourage engagement by showing love—experienced as kindness, care, civility and enthusiasm—to their staffs. How you treat your employees is how they will treat your customers.

Indeed, these basic precepts continue to be the age-old key to increasing sales, customer commitment and employee engagement.