Now, more than ever, company management and executives should focus on being both employee- and customer-centric. Customers and employees of any given company are living through a global pandemic. People are suffering physically, emotionally, and financially. While empathy is a common buzzword and conversational topic, practical application has yet to be created in many workplaces. During the COVID-19 era, companies’ management teams must place empathy as their main focus and turn this empathy into a tangible empathetic environment to remain functioning.
A method of implementing empathy into the workplace, whether remote or in-office, is to change the organizational culture within a company. For effective organizational culture change, companies must create tangible lasting structures. For example, a company can utilize management system features to check-in with employee needs. If company management teams use these systems to administer surveys, send out email check-ins, and reach out to different departments, this could be successful for improving employee experiences. Organizational culture begins with behavior of the leadership and follows with employees’ witness of that behavior and choice to maintain the culture.
Additionally, onboarding, training, and managing employees and interns remotely requires extra attention to maintain respect from these employees and interns and a more cohesive team.
A company’s success begins with management strategies and employee treatment. Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, outlined the best ways to transform company culture in a recent survey of over 7,500 employees and about 200 HR leaders at large international companies. Gartner suggests administering employee engagement surveys with open-response questions. Companies often believe and accept generic numbers from ambiguous surveys about employee contentment and retention, rather than attempting to listen to individual employee feedback and concerns (2). Incorporating a better listening strategy from management is a great first step to organizational culture change. Including an employee/intern feedback feature on employee and intern management softwares will improve contentment from the moment employees interview for the company. If they witness management desiring to improve their experiences, the employees and interns will be more likely to desire improvement in customers’ experiences and their productivity at work. As full-time workers and interns advance in their work and complete projects, they will have the ability to give their managers helpful feedback to make processes smoother and more desirable for all parties involved.
To shape employees who are more attentive to customers’ needs and wants, companies should utilize their HR and management softwares to implement a cultural change of customer-centrism. Management teams should shift employees’ focus to a deeper understanding of customers from day one with the incorporation of customer service into their interview questions1, onboarding paperwork, and training videos within their management system. The onboarding paperwork could include questions about how employees plan to practice empathetic customer service, and the training videos could focus on successful listening and customer service strategies. Next, companies should funnel the feedback from customer experience surveys into their employee portals as a way for employees to gauge the company’s holistic customer service success. Finally, companies should construct ways for their employees to read customer stories and predict their wants and needs, much like the company Slack does with their employees (1).
1. "6 Ways to Build a Customer-Centric Culture" by Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review
2. "The Wrong Ways to Strengthen Culture" from the July–August 2019 issue (pp.21–25) of Harvard Business Review