Putting employees first is a great way to generate a win-win of happy employees and happy customers.
Everyone has been talking about the “Great Resignation” and trying to figure out what’s underneath this phenomenon. I don’t think the answer is important, what I do think matters is that each small business owner takes a fresh look at all of the options available to them.
As I was looking for timely books to review, I ran across Employees First!: Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the Heart of Your Organization by Donna Cutting. “Gosh! I thought, it’s been a long time since we’ve explored the old customers-first vs employees first philosophy of business.” So I picked it up.
The book description asks a simple question “How do we get an hourly employee who has never received red carpet customer service, to give it?”
This is an important question to ask, because if you’ve been assigning value to people based on their position in your company or the type of work that you do, your first opportunity for improvement might start with your own mindset.
WHY You Should Be Putting Employees First
Everyone who’s anyone is doing it
Early in the introduction to Customers First Cutting mentions the 2020 HR Sentiment Study Conducted by Future Workplace. When they asked HR executives where they were putting their attention, more than 50% said “Focus on the employee experience first”.
The pandemic changed everything
The pandemic has shown us SO MUCH about ourselves and how we view work. On the one hand, “essential employees” — those who couldn’t work remotely finally realized that they were worth more than minimum wage.
Work-from-Home has taken root and many employees will either continue to work from home or go to a hybrid situation.
Finally, leaders will have to learn how to keep all employees connected and happy; those who HAVE to be on location and those who are working from home.
Donna Cutting is All About The Red Carpet Experience
Cutting is the founder and CEO of Red Carpet Training. As you can imagine, she believes that both employees and customers deserve to have that red carpet experience.
Cutting recognizes that no amount of money can buy “feeling special”. And she’s taken that simple idea and built a successful business around it. Customers First is her third book on the topic. In 2010 she wrote The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service and in 2015 she wrote 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers, and Make a Lasting Impression.
Cutting is also an award winning professional speaker. So, you know her books will be fun to read and very practical.
Let’s see what’s inside Customers First and how you can retain both customers and employees.
Step 1: Set the Stage INSIDE Your Organization
Cutter recommends that you “Give them something to care about”. In many ways, this is a marketing and branding activity. It’s the WHY behind your business, it’s the story you tell that inspires them and makes THEM feel like they are contributing.
Secondly, it’s you, as the business owner, recognizing that each employee is valuable, just as each customer is valuable. It’s a symbiotic relationship; happy customers are repeat customers, referring customers and profitable customers. Happy employees are exactly the same. Happy employees create happy customers, who become repeat customers and profitable customers (and employees).
Step 2: Keep New Hires
That’s the thing with new employees, they require and upfront investment in finding and training and if you can’t keep them, you lose money.
Keeping new hires is critical and inspiring them to create amazing customer experiences is what generates profits.
Step 3: Create and Establish an AUTHENTIC Culture of Caring
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we are all in this together. There simply is no room for platitudes like “People are our greatest asset” while management skims profits and leaves nothing for employees.
Use your “Why” and your values to infuse everything from your hiring practices to compensation.
This last step is a mindset more than a series of steps. It drives so many of the other chapters in the book and so many of the other lessons in the book.
What You’ll Learn From Employees First
I saw a quote somewhere that said that 90% of business success is the business owner’s mindset. I’d have to say that I agree.
Inside Employees First, you won’t be surprised by what you see — because it’s nothing more than the Golden Rule applied to your employees.
- Give your team a reason to work together. Help them feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. This will give them a sense of purpose and make them more productive.
- Be kind and compassionate at work. It will make the workplace a better place for everyone.
- You can improve the way you communicate with other people by becoming more informative, interpersonal, and inspirational.
- Promote diversity and inclusion. Remember, diversity includes, age, gender, race, and even personality and communication styles. The more diverse your workforce, the more successful you’ll be.
- Compensate employees fairly without going broke in the process.
- Keep your remote team Connected and engaged
Is Employees First For YOU?
You don’t need to have employees to appreciate employees first. If you’re working with freelancers or outsourced team members, I think this book is VITAL to your success.
After all, you are competing with other clients your team members are serving and it’s on you to inspire and engage them enough to focus on you and your projects.
This is also an ideal book for anyone who has done all the “basics” such as thrown money at the problem. Or, if you’ve found yourself complaining that “No one wants to work anymore” — this is a clear sign that you just might get something from this book.
Overall, I’m a fan of Employees First and I think if more business owners worked with this type of mindset, they would find it much easier to stand out from the competition, generate new customers and great employees and keep customers and employees. And, that means profits for everyone!