employee satisfaction

feelings matter: how do you feel about HR?

Yesterday, I wrote: How the humans who are your (internal or external) customers FEEL about your products and services is much, much more important than what they THINK. [This is the single most important line I have written in this blog ever. Period. Think about it. Internalize it. Apply it to your job.]

I wrote it, but didn’t invent it. Much smarter folk than I have demonstrated this time and again, but it’s pretty easy to see in so many places. Advertisers provide just enough facts to let us think we’re being rational, but the images and ad copy focus on generating feelings. They scream: this product will make you feel sexy, young, in control, free, knowledgeable, successful, organized, powerful, fashionable, desirable, loved, safe, etc. etc. For a fun assignment, compare the feelings generated by car ads on ESPN or Spike with those on the Hallmark Channel.

Most recently, I saw this think vs feel distinction come up an Alexander Kjerulf’s “Creating Happiness at Work” presentation from Meaning 2012. It’s well worth watching and ties into employee engagement and the difference between how we feel about our jobs and how we think about our jobs.

All of this raises a great question: how do people feel about HR? When employees and managers think about their HR department, what is their gut level feeling? Anxiety? Dread? Or do they feel safe, secure, excited, supported? Is going to HR a dreadful walk to the principal’s office or an exciting visit to a place where stuff gets done and problems get solved? Sure, it depends on why you’re going to HR, so let me turn it around a little. When someone from HR is walking through the building do people’s stomachs tighten up or are they happy to see them?

How do people feel about the products and services your HR team provides? Resentful? Frustrated? Thankful? Confident? Uneasy? Awkward? Joyful? Empowered? Whether we pay attention to it or not, people have an emotional connection to their jobs, co-workers, boss, and even their HR department. That feeling might be negative, neutral, or positive.

Feelings matter. We don’t spend extra money, don’t create forums, and don’t promote products we feel negative or neutral about. When looking at customer satisfaction there is a huge gap between “it meets my needs” and “I’m so passionate about this product that I insist all my friends try it and spend my valuable spare time connecting with others who use this product”. That’s the gap between thinking and feeling.

So, back to HR. How do people feel about your HR department? What is their gut-level connection? If it was outsourced tomorrow, would employees even notice? Would they sing, “Ding dong, the witch is dead” and throw a massive celebration, or would they fight to keep it?

HR connects with it’s customers over money, family, security, future. All of those are powerful, powerful emotional trigger points. How can HR build stronger positive emotional connections to our customers? How can we not just meet the needs, but delight those we serve?

retention is easier

Quick question is it easier and cheaper to: 1) get new customers; or 2) keep existing customers? Obviously, it’s easier to keep existing customers. They know where to find you, what you offer, your level of service, etc. They already know that pros and cons of doing business with you and choose to do business with you anyway. Getting new customers requires making them aware of your business and what you offer and them convincing them to come visit and then convincing them to buy something and then demonstrating enough value through price or service that they choose to come back.

So why, why, why do businesses put so much emphasis on getting new customers, often at the expense of existing customers? Some industries in particular seem to have a business model that is solely focused on getting new customers from their competitors while ignoring their former customers who have been seduced away by a competitor. Huh? I see this most in subscription based businesses: cable/satellite TV, mobile phones, etc. The thought seems to be once you sign up you are captive and therefore require no attention. They are too busy trying to woo dissatisfied customers from the competition to worry about their own dissatisfied customers. They confuse contract induced commitment with satisfaction and loyalty.

Likewise, is it easier and cheaper to retain existing employees or to find and hire new ones? If retention is easier and cheaper, do we treat employees like we want them to stick around, like they don’t have a choice and have to stick around, or do we treat them like we don’t care at all?

It’s been said that the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience. What are your employees experiencing? Are they treated as well as we would want to be treated as customers? If we gave our customers the level of support, attention, and communication that we give our employees, would we still be in business?

Let’s spin this around: how do you want your best customers treated? What needs to be done to provide employees with the same level of internal support and service?