Do organizations that do a better job of providing what employees want also create more satisfied customers?
That’s one of the main questions authors Jack Wiley and Brenda Kowske ask in their book “RESPECT: Delivering Results by Giving Employees What They Really Want” (2012, Jossey-Bass). Their answer is a definitive “Yes!”
The book’s title is an acronym for what the authors say are the seven fundamental desires that employees have: Recognition; Exciting work; Security of employment; Pay that’s competitive with other companies; Education and career growth; Conditions at work that are physically and socially comfortable; Truth and transparency from their leaders.
“We wanted to determine the relationship between organizations fulfilling the RESPECT needs of their employees and the satisfaction of customers who purchase products and services from that organization,” the authors state.
To answer the question they created a RESPECT Index that measured the fulfillment of the seven RESPECT categories and overlaid that on the highly regarded American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an economic indicator based on customer evaluation of U.S. and foreign-owned entities selling products in the U.S. Companies use ACSI evaluations to improve and maximize their customer relationships, which in turn drives customer loyalty and profitability. Over the 16-year period of the ACSI survey, it has been shown that companies with high ACSI scores tend to have better performing stock prices than low ACSI scorers have.
Upon examining more than 60 companies for which they had both RESPECT Index and ACSI scores, Wiley and Kowske found “a very strong positive link between the two indexes.” For example, companies that score in the top 20 percent on the RESPECT Index achieve an average ACSI score of 79 – almost four points above the national average. This impressive result can be contrasted with the performance of the bottom RESPECT companies, which manage a score of only 67.3.
“Those organizations that do a better job of fulfilling the most important workplace needs of their employees are the same ones that tend to do a better job of fulfilling the needs of their customers,” the authors state. “While customer satisfaction alone does not ensure customer loyalty, we know that customer loyalty will not result without customer satisfaction. Loyal customers are not only repeat customers, but they tend to buy more products and services, thus further increasing an organization’s revenue and market share.”
Employees who get what they want from their organizations are more engaged than their unfulfilled counterparts. Wiley and Kowske define employee engagement as “the extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are willing to apply discretionary effort to accomplishing tasks important to the achievement of organizational goals.”
Enthusiasm for work, commitment, organizational pride, alignment with organizational goals, and a willingness to exert discretionary effort are all elements that show up in past research on employee engagement.
What’s more, the authors report that employees who get what they want from their organizations also view their organizations as more formidable competitors. “As you can imagine, the organization holds a tremendous advantage when its employees truly believe they are on a winning team,” they state.