There’s great debate about what makes a company or organization great. Is it the leadership or the Esprit de corps? In an era of the empowered employee, where innovation can result from just about anywhere within a company and collaborative work initiatives help to break down knowledge silos, they way workers are treated can be the difference between bold innovation and stagnation. I’ve worked for organizations where employees were an after thought, as well as those where employees were respected and regarded as a valued asset and what I’ve found is that it comes down to how a company portrays its relationship with employees to its audience. It’s one thing to ‘talk the talk’ and another to actually ‘walk the walk’, but when companies can be transparent and truthful about how they regard their employees to the wider world, it definitely helps to elevate its level of commitment and investment in its workers.
Recently, we’ve seen examples about how business owners have short-shrifted their employees in light of concerns about the economy or in protest of the Affordable Care Act. Politics aside, these companies are not doing their brands any favors by showing how little they regard those who have invested in them for work. However, for every Papa John’s or Westgate Resorts there are those companies that have showcased their appreciation for their employees in subtle, but important ways. They didn’t say it on a billboard or shout it from the rooftops. Instead they incorporated it into their online content marketing efforts. Here’s one example that recently caught my attention.
Anytime Costumes sells costumes online. However, their warehouse lives in Syossett, New York, which was affected by Hurricane Sandy. I received an email from them the other day and it was a heartwarming reminder that there are small businesses who celebrate their employees and rally around them, even in times of crisis. The email showed a before and after shot of their flooded warehouse and included the following note:
Our employees responded to this catastrophe with extraordinary dedication and determination. …We would like to thank all of our employees for the great job they did restoring our business and for the hard work they do every day serving customers like you.
I didn’t expect to receive such an email and I immediately recognized its sincerity, which only endeared me to this company more. There are so many costume companies around, but Anytime Costumes stood out from the rest simply for their human and humble email.
Businesses promoting a brand or cause not only have to focus on marketing it in a way that is desirable to consumers; they also need to remember that they are promoting a culture of work. Ultimately, in order to thrive, businesses need employees. If you alienate customers, eventually you will alienate prospective employees as well. How you treat your employees is indicative of how you run your business and a testament to the integrity of your products.
As business owners if you can’t confidently support your employees in public, how can you possibly expect to do it in private? Successful online marketing and social media are built on foundations of truth and transparency, but they should also be mainstays of good business.
When I work with clients, I help them to plan for the worst case scenario before it happens. What will you say? How will you act? What type of impression will you leave with your users? Everyone likes to be in control, but as we know it’s not always possible as there will always be greater forces as work. Yet, how we behave when we’re not in control is indicative of how we are likely to lead and support those who work with us.