Your whole business hinges on your customers. Without fans, you couldn’t keep the lights on or pay for web hosting, let alone scale up.
Most organizations realize this, of course. They’ve heard that six out of 10 people will lose brand faith after a few bad encounters, according to PwC. That’s why they put such a premium on fostering the best possible customer experience without exception.
There’s an issue, though. Far too many companies forget the connection between employee experiences and customer experiences. That is, they neglect to consider how their workers’ morale affects customer service as well as brand reputation.
Take a typical interaction between an employee and a customer. No matter what the employee’s role, the customer will gauge the brand based on the interaction. If the interaction is pleasant, helpful, and polite, the customer will feel supported. If the interaction leaves much to be desired, the customer may go elsewhere.
To be sure, improving the overall employee experience requires a multi-pronged approach. However, if you’re in a leadership position, you might want to start by helping your people manage their stress levels. Workers who feel overwhelmed all the time can’t perform at top-notch levels. And that can hurt their performance, your team’s morale, and your ability to wow customers.
Reducing your team members’ individual and collective stressors won’t happen overnight. Nevertheless, implementing a few key strategies today should bear fruitful (and measurable) results in time.
1. Make it easy for employees to stay—and hard for them to say goodbye.
Whenever someone leaves your payroll, your entire workforce dynamic changes. Plus, you end up watching legacy knowledge walk out the door. Every time you have to introduce someone new into the fold, everyone undergoes stress. Therefore, you’ll want to figure out your historic turnover rate and find ways to bring it down.
Bob Goldwater, founder of the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, has seen how stressful turnover can be. That’s why he advises other leaders on ways to reduce employee churn. As he explains, “It’s better to hang onto your veteran, skilled workers if at all possible.” To that end, he suggests forging real connections with employees so they don’t run away when life gets tough.
For instance, let’s say one of your longtime workers experiences home-related challenges. Wouldn’t you rather the employee talk to you or a human resources representative than resign because of stress? If you’ve removed the barriers to workers sharing pitfalls and concerns, you’ll be better positioned to hold onto talent.
As Goldwater points out, it’s not impossible to make organizational adjustments when life’s stressors pop up for workers. It just requires planning and emotional intelligence. And your employees will pass on their appreciation and the empathy they experienced when dealing with customers.
2. Offer employees a no-brainer route to upskilling.
The needs of business evolve all the time. As a result, employees can have trouble keeping up. And that means they’ll be more anxious, worried, and harried. Even if they’re good producers, they might be losing ground month after month because they lack training. This will inevitably impact their interactions with customers.
Don’t assume that your workers will seek out the knowledge they need on their own, though. Even if you offer perks such as partial or full tuition reimbursement, many team members will forget. Instead, you need to host workshops on topics that matter to what they’re doing.
One caveat: Safety and mandatory workshops aren’t going to count toward employee goodwill. Employees know that you’re expected to hold trainings annually or regularly on specific subjects. They won’t be impressed at another OSHA gathering. But they may appreciate the opportunity to earn a valuable certificate by taking company-paid onsite or online classes.
Upskilling and reskilling your people won’t just keep them happier and less stressed out by new demands. It will also close major expertise gaps in your company. Eighty-seven percent of leaders told McKinsey researchers they anticipated major skills gaps in the coming years. The training you pay for today could ensure you’re one of tomorrow’s industry disruptors.
3. Give rewards that reduce potential stress.
It’s a fact that stress can come from a variety of sources. Employees can experience social stress, financial stress, personal stress… the list goes on and on. You can help chip away at the stress by recognizing and rewarding workers in a variety of ways. In turn, your people will be able to more fully concentrate on impressing customers left and right.
For instance, you may want to implement some kind of a bonus arrangement based on corporate profits or personal performance. Or, you might just distribute a special year-end bonus to everyone. Extra bonuses help employees pay for the things they need without dipping into their savings. You could also improve your retirement account offerings to include more than a simple IRA. Get creative and try to find ways to lessen the stress for your teams.
Not sure what kinds of rewards your people could use right now? Send out a survey and gather feedback. An anonymous survey will give you major insights into how you can help everyone. That way, you can individualize your approach to incentivizing employees.
One word of caution: Don’t hold tight to benefits that don’t matter as much in a post-pandemic world. Per EBN reporting, 54% of workers say they want to be able to work when and where they want. In other words, that’s an important perk that they feel will stave off stress. Another 16% said having financial assistance to cover necessary childcare costs would be nice. You’ll just need to experiment with the perfect balance of benefits and rewards to see which ones enhance your employees’ experience.
Some of the first customer interactions with your brand will happen through your workers. Make sure they’re able to concentrate on giving customers the attention and care they deserve. The less stressed out your workforce, the easier it will be for everyone to bring their whole selves to work. And that’s good for everyone.
Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels