Managing Employees

Why It's Smart to Treat Your Employees Like Your Best Customers

Why It's Smart to Treat Your Employees Like Your Best Customers
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Successful companies realize that employees are their most important asset. Customers might be the reason the lights stay on, but those customers wouldn’t exist without the hard work and dedication put forth by employees.

It’s for this reason that employers should actively invest in their workers. Specifically, they should aim to treat them as they do their best customers. Just as businesses value their customers’ satisfaction, loyalty and referrals, employers should value the same in their employee relationships. Invest in employees, and they’ll invest in the company.

Like customer success, employee success should be a holistic experience for employees -- from recruitment through all of the great experiences they share with the company.

To create a top-notch employee experience that attracts and retains talent, here’s what employers should do during these three stages of the employee lifecycle:

Stage 1: Recruitment.

When it comes to finding the company’s next rock star employee, think of the company’s culture as the product. How can companies get job seekers to buy what they’re selling? Market the workplace to job seekers just as the company markets its product to consumers.

One way to do this is by embracing transparency as much as possible. Give job seekers a better idea of what it’s like to work at the company.

Take cloud-computing company Rackspace, for example. Its company career page features a number of “Culture in Motion” videos that take job seekers into a day in the life of a “Racker.” The page also includes informative posts written by company employees.

Social media also serves as a great platform to market employer brand. Just as companies strive to engage customers and keep them up-to-date via social media, employers should do the same with potential job candidates. Posting photos from the company’s last outing, highlighting employee testimonials and responding to questions and concerns are all simple ways to attract and engage top talent.

Related: Does Your Company's Branding Really Matter in Recruiting?

Stage 2: Development.

Companies invest in customer success and satisfaction, and employers must do the same with employees through ongoing development. The development process should begin on an employee’s first day and expand the length of their time with the company.

However, an increasing percentage of companies -- more than double the amount from 2012 (from 7 percent to 15 percent) -- have reverted to a one-day long onboarding program, according to a 2014 Aberdeen study. One day isn’t going to cut it. In fact, the same study also revealed that companies with shorter onboarding programs (i.e. less than a month) are nearly 10 percent less likely to retain their first-year employees.

Organizational and customer success begins with employee success, so give employees the tools they need to grow professionally. Don’t bring employee development to a halt once initial onboarding has ended.

Instead, strive to find out where individual employees would like to improve and give them opportunities to do so, such as investing in training programs, bringing in industry leaders for lunch-and-learns and giving employees time off to attend professional development events.

Related: Today's Most Satisfied Employees Demand These 4 Things

Stage 3: Retention.

As with all things -- including employees -- you win some, you lose some. When it comes to customer feedback, companies are quick to react by considering the potential impact of that feedback and addressing it to keep customers from leaving. Employers need to value employee feedback in much the same way. Employee feedback is the key to creating and maintaining a positive experience for new hires and current staff.     

To avoid losing employees, pay attention to what might be causing them to consider leaving in the first place. Just as business owners use customer reviews to improve upon their product, employers should rely on regular performance reviews and stay interviews to gain insight on how they can improve the employee experience.

Consider meeting with employees in a casual, one-on-one setting to discuss both employee and manager performance, areas for improvement and possible solutions. For employees who are set on leaving (it happens), send employees off on a good note. Conduct an exit interview to find out why the employee is leaving and what can be done to prevent others from following suit.

Related: Keep Your Talent: 5 Employee Retention Strategies for Long-Term Success