Richard Branson is credited with saying “clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”.
I think he’s right. We need to take care of our people in order to build a healthy business. I’ll take it one step further – business owners need to take care of their employees in order to build and maintain a strong community.
Plenty of data and research support investing in employee engagement to improve your business. Engaged employees can help companies outperform competitors by more than 200% according to research from employer review and hiring site, Glassdoor.
Organizational cultural keys all had a massive impact on employer choice according to Deloitte’s 2015 millennial survey, including items such as work-life balance, personal development and advancement, flexible schedules, sense of meaning from work.
When asked “What element of a work environment is most important to you?” in the Business Journal study of more than 1,800 respondents, the top answers were:
- Flexibility and technology that allows for work from home – 46%
- Having individual offices/private work spaces – 32%
- Amenities like free coffee, snacks, athletic facilities and day care services – 9%
- Smaller, collaborative workspaces for impromptu meetings – 7%
- Open office plan to maximize interaction with colleagues – 6%
Quantum Workplace, in their 2018 employee engagement trends report, shows the best workplaces are fun, challenging, friendly, engaging, and rewarding.
The research clearly shows that investing in the employee experience and taking care of your employees can help with employee retention and satisfaction. But of course, it’s never just that easy; businesses across industry sector are short staffed, creating numerous pressures on employees that manifests in service delivery and retention. Add the high cost of living in mountain communities and other societal pressures that cannot be controlled by businesses, and the pressure increases.
Thus, the importance of taking care of employees in order to help build, grow, and maintain a successful community. We need business leaders and elected officials who are committed to community – after all, qualify of life beings with a good job and our employees are the foundation for a successful business.
To simplify things, leaders can be equated to basic match equations. Leaders can add to an organization; or they can subtract from it. Leaders can divide; or they can multiply. Successful leaders – through vision, motivation, and inspiration and/or through empathy, service, and improving – need to focus on addition and multiplication, not on subtraction or division.
Focusing on employee engagement and team development adds to your employee retention, creating an environment where people can thrive and provide higher levels of service to your customers. Leaders create an environment which focuses on addition of service, resulting in the multiplication of effort and higher satisfaction scores. Leaders who do not focus on the employee experience and who do not invest in professional development and growth opportunities instead focus on subtraction and division – creating an environment that is detrimental to the customer experience and likely the bottom line.
Consider how your business values employees as employee retention can be a strategic initiative that leads directly to your business growth, with the added benefit of building a stronger community.
Town and county leaders should take note as well; housing access and availability continues to resonate as our largest community challenge and we need to find ways for the public sector and private sector to address the retention issue together.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com