Thursday, 2 February 2012

12 Most Self-Serving Reasons to Value Your Front-Line Workers

  Many leaders of organizations pay lip-service to valuing their people. It’s politically correct to show favor for the little guy. But how many executives actually believe the rhetoric that comes out of their mouths? How many of them actually do care about their workers on the front lines?
I think that they should. And I’m not talking about in a gimmicky, mission-statement from a benevolent dictator sort of way. I’m talking about for the sake of gaining profits and running more successful companies–managers need to authentically care about their workers. Whether they be factory workers on a shop floor or retail workers on a shopping floor, leaders need to hold these employees in the highest regard.

1. They are the last link to your customers

End consumers very rarely interact with the higher-ups in an organization. Therefore, the customer’s perception of your company is what they get from the last employee they interacted with. If they buy a defective product, are they going to be mad at the shop worker who assembled it or you — the one running the company? If they are shown poor customer service, are they going to be mad at the store associate or the company? For better or for worse, your front-line employees are what the customers perceive your company to be. Make the best of them!

2. There are a lot of them; you can be picky

Low wage jobs are a dime a dozen. They don’t typically take a lot of technical expertise or higher-level education. Therefore, there are usually a lot of workers available for those jobs. Why do most organizations look only for warm bodies to fill the roles? Be discriminating about who you are hire. Filter for the hardest-working, the most amiable, the best at communicating. Look for basic skills. Some employees will be better than others. Choose the better ones.

3. They’ll work harder

An employee who is valued will always work harder than one who isn’t. If your employees see that you care about them and expect great things from them, they will behave in such a way as to not let you down. However, if you act as if they are unimportant, they will see pleasing you as a fruitless endeavor and only put in a minimal amount of effort. Motivate your employees to work harder by actually believing in them.

4. They could be your next boss

Not everyone stays at the low end of the totem pole forever. If you don’t treat your employees well now, you may someday have to answer to an underling that becomes your boss. Think your job will be secure at that point? Probably not. You never know who your front-line workers will become further down the line. Respect them now… for your own good!

5. Society values them

You never see people lobbying for the rights of executives. The public is quick to band together in support of the front-line workers, though. If you don’t treat your workers well, you are going to have major PR problems.

6. They are human beings

Take off the boss-hat for a moment and recognize your commonality with your workers in that you are both human beings. You are both born in the same way. You both bleed, breathe, laugh, and cry. You are of the same species. If you devalue them, you are — in a sense — devaluing yourself. They are people too — show them that means something to you.

7. They are the faces of your company

When people think of Intel, they think of the people in the hazmat suits building their processors. When people think of Best Buy, they think of the employees in the blue shirts. In neither case do they think of the fancily-dressed higher ups in corporate offices. Your customers, as well as the general public, will only see what they interact with. Don’t you want the best person possible to fill that hazmat suit or blue shirt?

8. They might have some good ideas

It’s hard to manage from the ivory tower. The most valuable insights come from the workers who are interacting with your end products or your customers. Only the employee speaking with the customer can capture the nuances of that customer’s experience. Isn’t that something you want to know about?

9. They’re costly to replace

The costs of training materials and staffing for training is very high, especially when you must train as frequently as you do in jobs with high turnover. Additionally, you have a lull in productivity or in customer service when there is a transition in replacing employees. It is much better to value your front-line workers by hiring the best right from the start.

10. They can be your best friends or worst enemies

In today’s day and age, employees will not hesitate to plaster negative reviews of your company all over the Internet. At the same time, if you value your employees, they will not hesitate to go on a corporate crusade for you and proudly pronounce their allegiance to you through the same channels. In short, your employees have more info on you than anyone. How do you want them to use it?

11. You are making an investment in them

Each employee is an investment — of time and money — that could be spent elsewhere. Why on earth would you waste it on a mediocre employee? Why would you not value the employees that you do hire? If you treat them like a waste of your money, then that is exactly what you will get. Treat your employees like the precious investment that they are.

12. You’ll trust them and, therefore, won’t have to monitor as much

If you value your employees on the front-line, you won’t have to worry about them stealing, being lazy, or goofing off. In trusting them, you won’t have to hire other managers to make sure they are performing. Hire valuable, trustworthy people and treat them as such — then, you won’t have to pay the high prices of an otherwise inevitable bureaucracy.
Stop merely saying how much you care about your employees and start actually caring about them. Express interest in them and their professional development. The success of your business might just depend on it.

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