Back in the day, customers didn’t really get involved in the way management treated employees. They were pretty much only concerned about the company’s product or service. As long as the company provided a good product or service, customers were happy.
Those times have changed.
First, customers wanted to know that the product or service they were buying was made with environmentally friendly materials. Companies responded with efforts to recycle, reuse, and reduce as much as possible.
Then, customers starting shifting support to companies that have a defined social mission. It’s okay to be wildly profitable (in fact, shareholders love it) but companies needed to support the communities that support them. Organizations have now transformed their behind-the-scenes philanthropy into visible components of their culture and marketing.
Now, customers want to know that employees are being treated right. Case in point is the backlash businesses are experiencing as a consequence of their public plans to thwart the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).
Companies like Papa John’s and Darden Restaurants have seen a negative impact to their bottom line as a result. That’s customers making the decision to pull their financial support in response to their perception of unfair employee treatment in lieu of higher profits.
Now more than ever, corporate culture plays a role in the marketing of a company. I believe customers are fine with organizations making money and profits. But not at the expense of employees, the environment, their communities or the less fortunate.
That’s why I’m very excited to be joining the ethics and corporate social responsibility expertise panel at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The role of this panel is to explore this subject in depth and share information with human resources pros about existing trends that impact our workplaces. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to contribute at this level.
Let me know your thoughts. Are customers starting to weigh in on how companies treat their employees?
Image courtesy of HR Bartender