People • Perspective
The Role of Employee Engagement in Creating a Client-Centric Workforce
Jul.28,2023By Boulevard Staff
When employees are happy to come to work, that positive energy flows straight into an improved client experience
When all the social media posts and email marketing campaigns fall away, the client experience reveals itself as the bottom line in beauty business success. And while there are many ways to improve the client experience from an administrative standpoint, your employees will always be where the rubber meets the road. Employees that enjoy coming to work, are eager to learn, and are invested in the business’s success can make an enormous, measurable difference in how clients perceive their time in the shop. In short, happy employees make for happy clients.
You can’t control your employees’ attitudes, but you can help them feel empowered, excited about their jobs, and engaged with the future of the business. If you do, not only will they thank you, but your clients will thank you, too.
What is employee engagement, and why is it important?
Employee engagement is an indicator of how happy workers are with their jobs, how much they care about their work, and how committed they are to the success of the business. At its core, it aims to measure the emotional connection an employee feels to their job.
We all want our employees to enjoy coming to work on a simple, human level. But there are also major economic incentives for achieving high employee engagement. According to Gallup, employee engagement can affect a total of 11 performance outcomes, from absenteeism to turnover. The more engaged employees are, the more reliably they show up for work, the less they steal from the business, the more care they take while working, and so on. The list of benefits is a long one. Most important for self-care businesses? Organizations with high employee engagement saw a 10% increase in client loyalty and engagement over those with low employee engagement. That helped drive a 23% increase in profitability.
It’s simple: Humans respond well to genuine enthusiasm. When your employees are happy and focused, their clients benefit.
How do I measure employee engagement?
The trick with employee engagement is to make the intangible tangible. It’s not as simple as asking how engaged an employee feels. Clarity of role, opportunities for growth, recognition of accomplishments — all of these and more (we’ll get to those soon) can affect engagement, and it’s impossible to know how each employee weighs each one. When an employee says they’re 7/10 engaged, that tells us very little about their actual experience.
Instead, consider asking several questions that address different pieces of the engagement puzzle. Every business has different concerns, but this list of eight engagement axes can provide a baseline. Try asking employees to rate from 1-10 the degree to which they agree with each of these statements:
I know what is expected of me at work
I have the materials I need to do my work right
I feel I am paid fairly relative to similar roles in other beauty businesses
I receive feedback at a healthy frequency
The feedback I get is specific and actionable
If I have ideas to improve the business, I will share them
Recognition and praise
My work is recognized and appreciated at a healthy frequency
When I receive recognition, it feels meaningful
Happiness and wellness
Generally speaking, I feel happy while working
I feel I have the flexibility to take time off when I need to
I rarely feel stressed while working
My peers and I collaborate well
Communication among my peers and me is honest and transparent
I trust my peers
I can ask my manager for help and receive their undivided attention
I meet with my manager at a healthy frequency
My manager cares about my well-being
I feel challenged by my work
I have opportunities to grow at work
I feel aligned with my organization's values
I understand where my organization is headed
I understand how my work contributes to my organization's mission
I feel comfortable recommending my organization as a good place to work
I feel proud when I tell people where I work
With each of these questions, leave space for additional comments. More engaged employees are more likely to fill this in.
A yearly survey is a good way to take a benchmark temperature across all eight axes, but it’s only one data point. Employee feelings change a lot over the course of a year. For a more complete picture, supplement the yearly survey with occasional shorter surveys that truncate the number of questions or target just one or two axes at a time. Once you have results, you can aggregate the responses to get a sense of employee engagement. Look for areas of high engagement to learn from what you’re doing right, and for areas of low engagement for places to improve.
Many managers and owners are reluctant to take this step because they’re worried that it opens the door to ongoing negativity. It’s true that asking for feedback creates the possibility of hearing something you’d rather not, but it also creates the opportunity to address that feedback in a transparent and profound way. Listen to your team, put effort into addressing their concerns and you’ll create an environment where your employees feel invested in the success of the business.
How do I boost employee engagement?
Engagement begins with trust. If an employee knows you truly believe in them and are taking steps to include them in your success, they’ll commit more of themselves to the business as a whole. How do you cultivate trust? Through transparency. Start by sharing the results of the survey with your team, showing them anonymized information about how everyone feels at and about work.
Sharing the results with employees presents an opportunity to solicit their feedback. It’s likely they’ll have different ideas about which areas of engagement are most immediately in need of work. At the same time, hearing they’re not alone in their feelings will make them more confident to speak up and share their perspectives. When they do, they can provide not just greater insight into the issues, but also employee-approved and effective solutions for you to implement.
Having such open, honest dialogue about the direction of the business is in itself a method for improving engagement, especially when it leads to action from leadership. Using the survey results and notes from the discussion with staff, you can create a plan to address one to three engagement axes. Trying to do too much at a time will likely lead to unsatisfying results, so zero in on what needs to be tackled first. Design specific measures you’ll take to improve, develop frameworks for implementing those measures, and set measurable goals around their deployment. Over time, you’ll be able to take in more feedback from your workers and refine the process. Trust in the process, and not only will your employees thank you, but your customers will, too.