What a difference

Employees can reveal much about the places where they work. In my town, I regularly patronize two businesses, both of which have lots of employees, dozens at least, maybe scores. When I visit business No. 1, I am greeted with smiles on faces that have become familiar to me because these are the same people who have worked there for a long time and appear to be happy in their jobs.

When I visit business No. 2, the employees also are reasonably helpful, but their faces reflect anxiety and frustration, and sometimes they can be grouchy with customers. With a few exceptions, the people behind these faces change frequently. There’s too much turnover. Customers routinely hear employees complain that a fellow worker “didn’t show up today.” Frequently, it’s more than one. Everyone appears overworked. Are they underpaid? Let me guess.

In contrast, a culture of doing whatever it takes to help the customer pervades Store No. 1. Every employee, and I mean every, shows an eagerness to help me and be friendly.  They all seem happy to be there, and they work hard.

What’s the difference? It’s more complicated than the size of one’s paycheck. The culture within a place of business starts at the top with the owner and the manager. It deeply affects the employees, which translates into the experience of the customer. That’s us. We have experienced in recent years a general cultural shift to far more emphasis on profit margin than on happy employees and customers, which translates to employee morale, turnover and ultimately, the perceptions and our real experiences when we patronize these places of business.

Fortunately, some enlightened business owners have figured out that if they treat their employees as if they were members of their own family, everyone benefits and profits go up. Everyone wins.

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