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Why Your Employee Should Be Your Number One Customer

Written By Bart Cleveland | Jan 16, 2015

“Tall, non-fat, two pump, no whip, mocha.” The person to whom I gave this order smiled knowingly. “Sure,” she said, writing details on the side of a white cup. “It’s Bart, right?” My nod was accompanied by a big smile.

I smile a lot when I go to Starbucks because of experiences like this. It’s what I expect of the brand and it’s delivered consistently. I also know why it happens. My daughter worked for Starbucks during college. Years later, she is still devoted to the company because they treated her like a customer rather than an employee.

What if our employees were our most devoted fans?

We in the advertising industry could take a hint from Starbucks. What if our employees were our most devoted fans? Would our work be better? Would we attract even more talented employees? Would we have more loyal customers? Of course we would.

Starbucks enjoys such brand loyalty because they have discovered what is relevant to their employees, and they offer it even to part-time workers. Why don’t more companies in the ad business follow suit? Maybe because most don’t know what is relevant to their best employees–those who are imperative to success.

Relevance keeps raising the bar.

If your company isn’t constantly trying to improve, your employees won’t have the opportunity to do so either. Keep BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) pasted on the walls. Challenge your employee to strive to exceed past accomplishments by implementing growth opportunities.

Relevance doesn’t confuse perks for engagement.

Having things like a pet-friendly workplace is nice, but it doesn’t fulfill keepers. They need to spread their wings. Push employees outside of their comfort zone by offering opportunities beyond current their skills.

Relevance is customized to the individual.

What employees want most is to succeed. If you help an employee develop their career, how engaged would they become? Career development is an overlooked opportunity to engage employees and maximize their contributions. Install a program to help your employees realize their career goals and many will do so at your company.

Relevance is always about opportunity.

In 1968, Dr. Fredrick Herzberg, a preeminent expert on employee management, wrote about motivation for the Harvard Business Review. His research showed that employees were more productive, and stayed longer, with companies that offered growth opportunities.

Over 40 years later at the AAAA’s Transformation 2011, Arnold Worldwide Global CEO Andrew Benett unveiled a landmark study to explain why people are choosing creative careers other than advertising. The conclusion: a lack of growth opportunities limited the attraction and retention of talent.

Our industry suffers from a talent shortage because we haven’t practiced what we’ve known for decades: the most talented people will only work for those who help them grow and succeed. If a company that sells cups of coffee uses this approach and succeeds, surely we can follow its lead.

Bart Cleveland has developed branding for a broad range of companies, including: Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton, CNN, DuPont, International Paper, Carter’s Baby Clothes, Applegate Organic Meats and James Hardie Siding. In 2012, Bart founded Job Propulsion Lab to help people entering advertising plan and manage successful careers.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.