Actions speak louder than words, and in business, this is no exception. I’ve read many news articles since the election that revolve around companies putting layoffs into place since Obama was re-elected. The main reason cited in these articles surrounds “Obamacare” – simply put, these companies are stating that they will have to layoff employees or cut work hours of current employees so as not to have to cover insurance, stating that it will cost more than they can afford.
I can understand their frustration in this regard, if it is true. If companies are faced with additional cost, they may have to make some tough decisions. However, what caught my attention is that I read an article on Friday about a larger company who stated these exact sentiments, yet over the weekend I viewed several commercials with high profile spokespeople for the very same company. I know advertising isn’t cheap, and it is necessary, BUT…..
What message are you sending to your employees? We need to make cuts, but we’re not going to change our advertising spend. In fact, we’re going to cut your hours or completely eliminate your job. That sends a message that bringing customers in is more important than the employees a company hires.
It may not be that simple, or that cut and dried, but it does send a message.
In another newsworthy item this weekend, I came across an article that talked about a drug store chain that spent several thousand dollars on advertising to bring customers in to their stores. While it worked well, and people came in to redeem the sales in the ad, there were issues with redemption of the offer, and employees (and managers) were not able to honor the offer because of a simple glitch that no one had the authority to fix. From what I understand, it made many customers unhappy, some vowing never to return to the store. While all of this money was spent getting people into the store, not enough funds were focused on employees and providing them training and tools necessary to fully assist customers. I’m sure it was not their intent, but they set up the employees to fail. That sent a message too, intended or not; the company was focused on increased sales without making sure their front line employees were able to be successful and provide the service customers expect.
The economy has been rough, to say the least, for the last several years, but your employees are the face of your business. While it’s true that they are valued, and you could not run your business without them, it’s wise to make decisions focused on thinking through what message you may be sending to your employees. Empowered employees with strong morale will help you meet your goals. After all, you can bring in thousands of customers a day, but if your front line isn’t able or willing to provide great customer service, everyone loses.