As we continue our series on using empathy to lead the way in your corporate social responsibility initiatives, let’s switch our focus to a new way of looking at your employees.
There is a sense, historically, of employees viewing management as a sort of parental guidance. It sounds funny, but it happens often, where employees have a view of upper management as intimidating, high-level authority figures. While in many ways upper management does have high authority, it’s not exactly control over personnel so much as business decisions. Still, the culture of looking at the C-suite or higher as some untouchable branch of corporate governance can create a toxic environment at worst, or lower overall employee experience at best.
The greatest thing empathy can teach us—when thinking about employees and their experiences—is to connect. Leadership, for example, can remember when they were in an entry level positions to form a business connection with employees or connect to employees through thinking of them as consumers. Looking at both ways can connect leadership with employees in a more profound way and create better employee experiences, which then extends to higher levels of customer experience.
“Show me a happy employee, and I’ll show you a happy customer.” – Haris Azmi, Sogolytics CRO
Employee to Employee Connection
We all remember it, right? The first time you picked up an application—I might be dating myself a bit here—the fear of the first interview, the desire to impress and be given a chance, and the moment where our work expectations didn’t quite match the reality. No matter when or where, we all took our first steps into the world of work.
Maybe you started fresh out of college, after years of hard work and development.
Or maybe you started with your family, working in a business that was founded generations ago, knowing you were in line to take over.
No matter your beginnings, we’ve all probably had similar experiences in our first job: unhappy moments, as well as great moments—and bosses!—that shaped who we are as employees today. Because of these shared experiences, we can be empathetic to others’ experiences and think of ways to improve their journey. Did you ever wish you were heard? Did you ever wish you could offer ideas, even outside of your department?
There are plenty of opportunities for employees to feel empowered within their company and grow to greater heights when they are allowed to spread their wings. Through empathetic listening, you can check the pulse of your employees and understand what makes them tick, what is important to them, and what tools/abilities they need to do their jobs better. When practicing empathy, you can improve the lives of your employees, because you can relate to when things were not so great. The better the employee experience is, the more you improve metrics like retention, churn rates, and hiring.
It’s sort of a win-win situation, don’t you think?
Employee to Consumer Connection
In their bid for growth and improved customer experiences, many companies forget that their employees are their nearest—and most easily accessible—brand ambassadors and consumers! Companies can’t operate without their employees, and yet only 31% of companies say that they measure employee experiences, compared to the 81% who measure customer experiences.
Companies should be looking at their employees like the way they study their consumers, and getting to know their employees, much like customer mapping, to achieve certain business outcomes or hit key metrics. The employee journey now becomes as important as the customer journey, in part because the two work together regularly. It’s the employees who will interact with customers more often than those in leadership roles.
Higher levels of employee engagement have been shown to be a key metric in tracking customer satisfaction because of its influence. Truly understanding your employees helps improve CX, of course, but also it boosts employee retention and increases productivity. Plus, it’s simply the right thing to do.
Employee as Consumer Connection
How many employees of Amazon, Airbnb, Apple, Samsung, and similar tech giants are likely to be customers of the same company that employs them? Now, think of how many are likely to leave their consumer brain at home when they come into work the next day.
The fact is, for many companies, their employees are also likely to be their customers, particularly when the products/services are good, the brand has a strong identity and relevance, and the employees are happy. Beyond that, you can also map employees—from their traits, behaviors, and more—as you would with customers in their journey. Connect who they are as a consumer with what drives them within your company, as well. You may find great professional development opportunities for employees who then are able to give more to the company!
Using empathy in the workplace is a powerful tool for greater connection with your consumers, clients, and employees. Within the world of corporate social responsibility, it helps determine how interactions with people are handled, on both the employee and customer side.
But it’s only the first step on this path, and we will continue to explore other facets of CSR in the coming months. We look forward to your feedback and suggestions, too!