The Most Successful Organizations Put Their Employees First

4 min read
Feb 7, 2017

putting employees first

Common sense tells us that if you want to build a successful business, you need to put your customers first. They’re the ones who support your company financially, after all. Without customers, you don’t have the ability to generate revenue, so putting your customers first and catering to their needs makes a whole lot of sense.

Not so fast.

Increasingly, successful organizations are realizing that they need to actually put their employees first — not their customers. When employee well-being is a top priority, it’s very likely that workers will be happy. And happy workers translate into happy customers — think service with a smile.

Just ask Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin:

“It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, theyre going to be happy,” Branson told Inc. When companies focus on employees first, “effectively, in the end shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff remains happy.”

Organizations can’t succeed without the hard work and dedication of their employees. That being the case, its critical that companies invest adequate resources in ensuring workers are taken care of. Here are six ways you can do that:


01. Build an awesome culture

As we noted in our 2015 Engagement Report, company cultures are strongly correlated with employee happiness. The more appealing and enjoyable your culture is, the happier your employees will be. While not every happy employee turns into an engaged one, it’s not possible for a worker to be engaged when they are unhappy.

By cultivating a strong corporate culture, you increase the chances that your staff will be engaged — which is important, since engaged employees are more likely to be great advocates for your brand and consistently go above and beyond.


02. Invest in professional development

For many of today’s workers, and the younger ones in particular, professional development opportunities matter almost as much as compensation packages. In fact, 60% of millennials would take a job at a company that offered opportunities for growth before they accepted an offer at a place that offered regular pay raises. Despite this, only 25% of employees believe that their organizations offer enough opportunities for professional development, a stat we uncovered in our Engagement Report.

In order to put your employees first, you need to support their careers. Let your employees attend relevant conferences and trade shows. If you don’t have room in your budget, you can start a mentorship program where senior employees teach younger workers the tricks of the trade.


03. Give your employees the tools they need to succeed

According to our Engagement Report, nearly 70% of workers say it’s hard to get all of their work done in any given week. Part of the reason that number is so high is because employees might simply be overworked. Another part stems from the fact that employees may not have the tools they need to reach their full potential.

When is the last time you upgraded your technological infrastructure? Are you still relying on outdated business applications and messaging services? When you invest in new technologies — like collaboration tools, cloud computing, and mobile devices — your employees’ jobs suddenly become that much easier. Such investments are a very clear sign that you care about your team’s well-being.


04. Let your workers be as autonomous as they can be

You didn’t hire your employees so that you could monitor every last thing they did. You hired them because your organization wanted to leverage their talents. To that end, the last thing you should be doing is micromanaging your employees. Show your employees that you respect their skills and trust them as adults by letting them be as autonomous as is sensible. If your company requires everyone to work in the office between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ask yourself whether you really need to stay the course.

Once you’ve invested in modern technology, it’s easier than ever for workers to tackle their jobs from any location. Consider letting your employees work remotely and create their own schedules — both of which have been proven to boost engagement and employee happiness. So long as they do their jobs well and meet their obligations and deadlines, does it really matter when your employees get their work done?


05. Solicit employee feedback regularly

To truly put your employees first, you need to ask them what they’re thinking on a regular basis. You can solicit employee feedback in 1:1 meetings or you can use pulsing surveys administered at recurring intervals to allow the members of your team to chime in anonymously. By actively seeking out their feedback, you prove to your employees that you care about what’s on their mind and the ideas and concerns they have. If you’ve ever worked for a company that never listened to what workers were saying, you can imagine how amazing it is to work for one that does the opposite.


06. Recognize your employees’ great work

When you work really hard on something and do a great job, it’s only natural that you want someone to tell you that they appreciate your efforts. Don’t take your team’s labor for granted. Recognize their hard work consistently — and they’ll reward you with more production.

When you put your employees first, everything else falls into place. Your workers will be happy to show up and contribute as much as they can every day. They’ll love working for your company, and those positive feelings will transfer over to every customer interaction. By putting your employees first, your customers automatically become a close second.



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