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“Employees are Your Greatest Asset”

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Business owners and senior leaders often say, “Our employees are our greatest asset.”  But exactly what does that mean? Everyone understands that an asset is something or someone useful or valuable. Why – or how – does this define the role of employees in a small to mid-size privately-owned company, nonprofit or large, public corporation?  

There are two key ways that employees can add value to their employers.

Employees have their finger on the pulse of the company

Based on their repeated, consistent and meaningful contact with vendors and customers, employees can be the eyes and ears of the company.  Their first-hand observations enable them to point out potential challenges before they become crises, generate referrals, suggest innovations and offer process improvements and the insight to anticipate customer complaints. 

Employees drive the customers’ experience

In a classic Harvard Business Review entitled, “Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work,” the case is made emphasizing the direct correlation between the front line employees, customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability. The article demonstrates that most employees have significant interaction with customers and as such they are well positioned to have a positive or negative impact on them and thus on the company’s financial situation. “Customer loyalty drives profitability and growth,” concludes HBR.

Clearly, employees who are satisfied and loyal can increase profitability by influencing customers and encouraging their loyalty and satisfaction. This concept seems to be based on common sense, but how do leaders ensure that their employees remain loyal and satisfied? 

But there are obstacles     

Key statistics reported in a 2017 Access Perks blog indicate some pretty dire statistics, listed here with their sources:

  • 1% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged (Gallup)
  • Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually (The Engagement Institute)
  • Disengaged workers cause massive losses in productivity – between $450 and $500 billion a year (Mental Health America)
  • About 70% of Americans are disengaged at work (Gallup)

The numbers reveal an important trend. Surveyed employees who say they don’t enjoy their jobs create a costly headache for their employers. Their dissatisfaction can lead to poor performance and high turnover. Employees who are disengaged don’t bother to offer new ideas, go the extra mile, recruit future employees, or remain alert to new opportunities.

But does anyone understand why the employees are displeased?

Most surveys report that employees are consistent in their expectations. They want a culture where they have the opportunity to work with smart, effective, inspiring leaders who have a long term vision; they want challenging, motivating work and the cutting edge tools to accomplish their tasks; and finally, they want praise and recognition for a job well done as well as constructive feedback from fair and thoughtful day-to-day supervisors.

How do employees become a company’s greatest asset?

Business owners and leaders build a workforce comprised of valuable employees when they encourage employees to take ownership, displaying initiative, as well as demonstrating pride and respect for their roles and the organization. But employees cannot accomplish this on their own. Owners must be prepared to empower employees by setting standards for employee accountability; providing clear job descriptions and appropriate training; rewarding and encouraging extraordinary behavior and attitudes.

These are all excellent suggestions that successful companies embrace regularly.  What works for you and your employees?

Kristen Crouchelli, CPA, SobelCo