Reputation, Engagement & The Employee Experience: What Starbucks Has to Teach Us
By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified
Even with lowering unemployment and rising inflation, elevated expectations of the employee experience are still ever present. And it’s not going away.
Besides the basic need for a living wage, across every sector, people have a higher expectation of employers, leaders and each other. Being treated with respect, being valued, feeling seen, heard and appreciated, these are things that are never going away. Nor should they.
We need to take this moment to pause and understand what the employee experience truly looks like in our team/organization. We need to do more of what works, humbly experiment with new approaches, and do more of what has always worked…recognizing and truly valuing people in meaningful ways.
As we see in the case of the beloved Starbucks, the cost of taking our eyes off the employee experience prize is significant: lost productivity, reputation, profits, and loyalty (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg).
Remember when Starbucks was the mental health poster child just a few years ago for supporting their people? What happened between then and now?
I am not entirely sure. Maybe they don’t entirely know just yet (the PR folks have been kept very busy of late).
I’m not trying to bash Starbucks because hey, we don’t always know what’s happening in our own house (ever had a kid come home with a piercing?) But the reality is, the bigger you are (company size), the more you are revered (award-winning), and the more coverage you have (media and community hype), the more painful that fall off the pedestal is.
If the bigger you are the harder you fall., the bigger you are the more intensely you need to focus on the things that matter most in your company. And what can matter more than your people?
At the risk of being overly dramatic (although I did graduate from a performing art high school so it’s a little unavoidable), you literally cannot survive without your people, so it must always be a key performance metric – on your corporate spreadsheets and on your leadership intuition radar.
Turned Inward – Getting Internally Focused
To be clear, we don’t need to be perfect. We need to be partners.
It’s so tempting to focus on what we need to be “out there”. What do our customers say? What’s in the media coverage? What are the industry trends? All are important, and the need to keep an external eyeball on the economy, funding changes, grants and more is key to survival. That said, it is just as important as what’s going on in your own (corporate) house.
A warning to us all as the external landscape gets economically rockier, don’t let that distract you from what’s happening in-house. Redouble your focus inwardly as what’s happening “out there” will be echoed (and perhaps amplified) “in here”.
- Inflation is on the rise…can employees pay for their groceries?
- Mortgage rates increasing…is marital tension rising?
- Unemployment rates decreasing…are folks staying because they don’t see they have another choice?
- Loneliness rates rising…are folks needing their peers to be their core source of connection and fuel mental wellbeing?
Looking for Answers Through the Employee Experience
What your employees care about needs to be what we care about too. As we saw in the bullets above, there are direct linkages, if we choose to look at them. We cannot afford not to. (Literally and metaphorically.)
Like it or not, the truth is this: the employment relationship has equalized more than ever before.
The good news is that employees – when we ask, engage and partner – will tell us what they need to thrive and remain engaged. Some things may be harder to fulfill, but if we are willing to listen, understand and co-create, we build a lot of relationship currency. Where are there shared win-wins for all?
And when in doubt, recognize. Say thank you. Ask for opinions. Listen with your full attention. Visit the work area (where the value is created) and ask questions. Put yourself in folks’ shoes. Write thank you’s. Give opportunities for growth and development. And more.
If the world of work is seeming more confounding than ever (and how is that possible after managing through COVID?), you know we’re here for you. In fact, I’m opening up my calendar for the next few months to try to serve. Book time with me. I’m here for you so you can be there for others.
Be sure to take a look (or another look) at these previous posts for more great ideas on retaining your best and brightest: