When I asked a clerk at Walmart recently if I needed to wear a mask to enter, he responded: “Do whatever you want. Frankly, they don’t pay me enough to care.”
The implications of this statement sent my mind reeling and I had some questions:
- What if it mattered to a company that their employees cared about customers, that customers could potentially become ill because of an employee’s judgment?
- Is Walmart (or any company, frankly) so cash-strapped that they can’t afford to pay employees enough to care? To build customer care into their job descriptions and only hire folks who comply? To teach new hires that customer-caring criteria are a big part of their jobs?
- What sort of hiring and supervision practices make it possible to hire folks who won’t do their jobs – or does ‘customer care’ not show up on their job descriptions?
- Do companies understand that customers are the secondary victims of bad hiring practices and inadequate pay?
- What is the value of employee and/or customer happiness?
I strongly believe companies are one of the propagators of happiness for employees and customers. In this article I’ll examine people, pay, respect, and responsibility so we can begin to think about ways to make money AND make nice.
Given the size of the topic, in this article I’ll merely pose some questions to inspire interest and create a foundation for a fair equation. Ultimately, I’d like to think that companies are in business to serve.
- How can we compensate employees to make sure they earn enough to take care of their families AND incorporate caring for clients as part of their job?
- What is an operational equation between gross corporate revenue, fair profit margin, employee pay, product pricing, and vendor profit?
- How do we choose new hires that are people-oriented, who understand their job is to serve both customers and each other, to understand that customers provide their income?
- How do companies design an equation for employees and customers in which everyone walks away getting what they need? How do we factor in ‘people-respect/happiness’ and put it high on our criteria – for hiring, for job descriptors, for client care?
- What is the fair equation between CEO pay and employee pay? Between profit margin and a living wage?
- How does respect – for employee/colleague/customer treatment – get imbedded, compensated, supervised, tracked as part of a company culture?
- What does pay represent? Is it job specific, outcome specific, paid as per responsibility/job description, ability to bring in income, degree of customer happiness, amount of customer churn?
- How can customer facing jobs – sales, customer service, help desk support – be fairly/equally compensated given they hold the key to maintaining customers?
- How can corporations reward all employees in a way that reflects minimizing customer churn? Maybe an annual bonus for all depending on what percent customers remain from last year? A bonus for customer-facing employees dependent on customer retention?
- Why do some jobs – i.e. sales, ‘C’ level officers – receive such an inordinate amount of pay when other jobs that are client facing – outside field techs, customer support folks – and actually lessen customer churn get paid less?
- Why is nabbing new clients more highly paid than keeping clients? It’s now built in that some jobs are more highly compensated but shouldn’t be if the churn rate is high and much business gets lost annually due to bad customer service?
- What if sellers got paid according to customer retention rather than new sales?
- How does respect – for clients/customers, for employees – get compensated?
- How do folks get hired and trained as per respect, and how is it built into their job description?
- How do customer-facing folks get paid to respect clients? To have the time to provide what customers need to be happy and satisfied rather than paid per X number of minimal minutes per customer?
- What is our responsibility as a company? To our employees? Teams? Vendors? Clients? The environment? How does this get built into the company culture?
- Who are companies responsible for/to? How do we imbed this into daily work?
- What does ‘responsibility’ look like on a daily basis – for our employees? clients?
- What are sales folks responsible for? They currently waste 90% of their time pushing solutions and chasing those who will never buy rather than facilitating buying and closing actual sales? (Hint: it’s possible to close 8X more prospects by facilitating buying than pushing solutions – but not by using the sales model solely.)
- What are managers responsible for? How can they be held accountable for facilitating teams who create outcomes that ultimately enable mental, physical, spiritual well-being within the company culture, or for clients? And how does this get compensated?
- How can responsibility to the environment get factored in to company identities?
- How can the corporate environment encourage learning opportunities with courses, peer coaching, rotating leadership roles?
WHO, EXACTLY, ARE WE?
Some say that companies are in business to create products to sell. What if our companies are vehicles to serve? What if it were our main priority to not only produce great solutions but to responsibly and ethically care for our employees and customers and the environment? To create reward traditions that are fair and equitable for all?
I believe we’re short-sighted by focusing on profits. This ends up making us greedy and numbers-driven rather than people- or serving-driven.
So I pose the question: what do we need to believe differently to run companies that have heart, that care about all involved – customers, employees, vendors, and the earth. With such a large canvass, I bet we can make a difference.
Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharondrewmorgen.com She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.