Are Your Employees Worth More Than Your Customers?

Have you ever wondered whether your employees could be worth more to your business than your customers themselves?

Without great staff, is it possible to do great business? Your customers support your business when they spend their money on your product or service. But your employees are your business for as long as they work for you, which, engaged or not, could be anywhere between six months and sixteen years. The relationships you build with your staff, therefore, are crucially important for the success of your company.

Unlike your customers, your employees won’t simply walk away from your company when they stop feeling happy with you. The hassle of the job hunt may put them off; perhaps they like your office location; perhaps they’ve got comfortable with other members of the team. Your employees choose, instead, to resign themselves to a position that they feel could be better but could be worse.

For your company, however, nothing could be worse.

The cost of disengagement

When your staff disengage, they become less productive, and therefore less profitable. You are paying them to fill an empty seat with apathy, which is good for no one.

A CIPD report in September 2013 found that 35 – 39% of the UK workforce is actively engaged at work. This renders around 61 – 65% of the workforce in the UK either disengaged or actively disengaged.

When organisations with higher numbers of engaged employees experience lower levels of employee turnover, higher productivity and better financial performance, the cost of low engagement is significant. When companies fail to take care of their staff, it seems, the business they do with their customers suffers. Before you can take care of your clients, therefore, it is crucial that you first take care of your staff.

Causes of disengagement

It is widely agreed that, at the basic level, the number one factor affecting employee engagement is your staffs’ individual relationships with their direct manager. Depending on the size of your company, this could be you or people working several levels below you. Take time to assess how much real control you have over this situation: you need your business to be profitable. Are the right people being appointed to managerial roles?

Engaged workers are likely to be more productive and it therefore makes good financial sense to invest time and effort in your employees. The Bureau of National Affairs estimates that American businesses lose as much as $11billion annually as a result of high employee turnover, a direct result of disengagement. When disengagement figures in the US reflect those in the UK almost exactly, you should consider that investing more in your employees is a vicarious investment in your business and your customers.

Your staff are the face of your company when it comes to interacting with clients and customers. These are the interactions that will largely determine whether a customer decides to repeat their business with you, or take their money elsewhere. Without employee engagement, you will find it difficult to build a base of loyal customers, who come as a direct result of loyal and engaged staff.

Are your employees worth more than your customers?

Yes and no. Your customers are the ones paying your bills, it is true. They are the ones paying your employees’ salaries! But, without an engaged workforce, you may be able to meet demands but it is unlikely that you will exceed expectations. Your staff are simply not willing to go the extra mile in a job they don’t relate to.

The first step to great service externally is making sure you can provide a fulfilling experience for your ‘internal customers’ – your employees. Apathy is best countered with empathy. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes to understand what motivates them and how they can feel more engaged at work.

In the first instance, it’s true that your employees are more important than your customers because with an engaged workforce, your customer base will thrive.

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