Employee Satisfaction or Bust

Every once in a while, I see a segment on television that both delights and dismays me. It delights me because it is so obviously true and so simple to create. It dismays me because, as business speakers, this exact same message has been preached by me and my colleagues for the past three decades. The point is: a conscious, emotionally mature leader, an empowering leader crafts a culture of trust which results in committed, loyal and happy employees. Happy employees create a happy workplace which, in turn, creates great customer satisfaction and results in lots of money for the bottom line.
So, after all these years, why do studies show that only three out of ten employees are engaged and that lack of engagement results in more than 550 billion dollars in lost profits? Are true leaders so very rare? Or, is it that the majority of leaders operate out of ego and fear, creating a culture of dissatisfaction? Certainly, something is wrong.
Today’s CBS Sunday Morning focused on the employees of Market Basket, a 71-store supermarket chain in New England. It begins when the much loved boss, Arthur T. Demoulas, was ousted by his cousin in a take-over. 20,000 workers walked out and customers supported them by not patronizing the stores. The company was losing 7 million dollars a day. This could have played out many ways but, remarkably, the supermarket Board agreed to sell the majority stake to Mr. Demoulas, ending a months-long dispute. Because of the loyalty of the employees, a miraculous feat was accomplished, one that put most unions to shame.
How did this happen? What’s the key? If you take a little time to study Fortune’s Magazine’s 100 best companies to work for, a pattern begins to emerge. The insight is best expressed by John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, who emphasizes that it begins by establishing a relationship of trust, which creates a certain kind of culture – a true family or team environment.
So, what is the lesson? Employees want meaning, purpose and the knowledge that they make a difference. In order to accomplish that, a leader has to possess an understanding of human nature and how the mind works, a real desire to create a culture of trust, a clearly communicated value-based vision that pulls a team together, and the self-confidence let go and empower the team to do their job and make a difference.
If you would like to see the television segment, go to: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-companies-that-value-employees-more-successful/