October 19, 2010
So, you hate your employees.
Perhaps hate is a little strong. Or maybe you do really wish you could fire them all and start over. Service industry employers deal with high-volume, high-churn workforces, a lot of which are filled with stressed-out college kids or disgruntled Gen Xers. Why don’t they care? Why do they keep stealing all of the pizza dough? Do they really think “got the flu” overnight is a believable excuse? How hard can delivering good customer service really be? How can they just not get it?
Well, maybe they hate you too.
Let’s face it; the service industry isn’t always the most glamorous place to work. Customers are much more likely to tell you how they really feel, and millions of service industry workers are going to school or working another job on top of the shifts they spend with you. They’re tired; they’re stressed; they just got left a 2 percent tip. And they could probably care less about going the extra mile for a manager who manages to find something wrong with everything they do.
Employee engagement is a two-way street.
For employees to make your customers happy, you first have to make them happy. Gallup polls have found that organizations with a surplus of disengaged employees lose 51 percent more inventory to employee theft and suffer 31 percent more turnover than those with an engaged workforce. Turnover can add up quickly, with replacement costs ranging from 25 to 80 percent for entry-level employees. So, as much as you think you hate your workforce, it’s better for your bottom line to engage the group you’ve got rather than starting over from Square One.
Happy employees pay off. Research from the Conference Board has shown highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged colleagues by 20 to 28 percent, and Gallup polls have found that engaged employees average 27 percent less absenteeism. Corvirtus, the respected service-industry focused assessments provider, studied the impact of engagement on key business metrics and found that increased engagement leads to:
- 200 percent greater espoused employee loyalty
- 26 percent greater cash flow
- 15 percent higher check average per person
- 23 percent greater customer satisfaction
- 52 percent lower employee dissatisfaction
“That’s nice, but HOW?” you ask?
Three easy steps:
1) Hire better
2) Train better
3) Evaluate better
Better employee performance starts with hiring better employees. Do your homework. Background checks, hiring assessments and reference checks make sure the right people get on your bus. Don’t trust your instincts because you’re “really good at reading people.” Everyone thinks they are “really good at reading people.” Leave it to science and the professionals to dig up the insight on how a candidate will perform day-to-day.
When your employees know and understand your business, it shows. Give them formal training, often, to keep them ahead of the curve. Generation Y is known for its openness to learning; feed their drive with collaborative technology systems that are catered toward their e-learning styles. Formal group training events and boring pencil-and-paper tests aren’t going to get your employees excited about your business.
Invest. Employees like to feel like they’re appreciated and working toward something. Give your workforce regular performance reviews and a career path to increase productivity and morale. Once employees understand how they can achieve their individual goals, they’ll become more engaged in their work. Win-win.
There’s no big secret to employee engagement. It’s about building relationships. What are you waiting for?
The PeopleMatter Institute