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How Treating Employees Like Customers Builds a Strong Company

treating employees like customers can build a strong business

Who are your most loyal customers? Is it the man who gives your products to his friends for Christmas every year? The woman who’s been using your software since she was a teenager? A multibillion dollar corporation who accounts for 50% of your total revenue?

And while it’s a good idea to shape your marketing strategies to speak to each of these customers, you might be missing out on another important group of stakeholders: your employees.

Employees understand your company better than anyone, and spend the most time interacting with it. Additionally, retaining them is crucial to your company’s success–and to retaining customers, since employees build the bulk of that relationship. As a result, smart companies and HR departments are realizing that they can apply the principles of customer relationships to their employee experience. Treating employees like customers, with value and care for their experience, helps create and retain a loyal employee base.

Author and HR/leadership expert Brigette Hyacinth writes that there are three main areas that affect an employee’s experience: their physical environment, the tools & support their employer provides, and how interested the employer is in their success.

We’ll focus on the last two, since HR departments can do a lot to change a company culture through tools, training, and language. So how can you build an employee experience strategy as rich and as attentive as your customer experience?

Work around their lives

Life doesn’t stop when we get to the office, and more and more employees want to work for companies who respect their work-life balance, and even try to make it possible. Work doesn’t have to happen between 8 am and 6 pm, especially for employees who are parents, caretakers, differently abled, or freelance workers. Companies that understand this, and make their employees the experts in their own schedules, have a much higher chance of retaining strong employees.

Because who says meetings have to happen in person? With all the co- and remote-working technology available, employees can do more in the same amount of time, and do it from anywhere. A recent Mercer study reveals that innovatively flexible workforces produce better employees who remain more loyal to their company.

Speak to employees in their own language

Another key way to treat your employees like customers is to make training, professional development, and multimedia materials available in your employees’ languages. You offer user manuals, product descriptions, menus, and websites in your customers’ languages, so why not translate and localize the material that your employees engage with?

Employees who can access training materials in their own language are more likely to adopt new processes and technologies much faster. They’re more likely to take ownership of their training and feel like the company values their expertise, which builds engagement and commitment.

It’s also important to pay attention to different cultural priorities in the workplace, especially if your business spans the globe. Employees from different countries and regions have different priorities. For example, employees in major US cities might prioritize transit subsidies and equitable maternity/paternity leave, while your employees in Mexico might prefer regular opportunities for promotion. Working with experts in-country can help you adjust your company culture and values by location in order to make your employees feel at home and valued.

Involve your employees in decisions

In a company whose employees span the globe, it might seem like the easiest way to implement change is to announce decisions and make your employees follow them. And unless you have to quickly comply with a new law, top-down decision making isn’t likely to cultivate employee buy-in, either.

Think about it this way: you wouldn’t announce a new product or service to your customers without first doing research, gathering data, and considering their needs. And so it’s useful to think of your employees as the first “customers” for company culture decisions. Whenever possible, using change management strategies will help your employees adopt change more quickly, leading to a more agile workforce.

At Venga, we help companies make sure that their programs, policies, and training are not lost in translation.  Contact us to see how we can help you cultivate engaged employees accross your global workforce.