Several years ago, one of my popular speaking engagements was "Why DWELL on Marketing?". DWELL was an acronym for what I consider to be the five pillars of successful marketing:
Written Marketing Plan
Evaluate Each Step of the Way
Love Your Employees
Love your Customers
I was surprised at the dismay by many people that I would put employees before customers. But I believe if you have the RIGHT employee, a happy employee will create happy customers. They will also be more productive and loyal.
At the time I did those presentations, Human Resources research showed, if you already paid a fair wage, what employees really wanted was (1) appreciation for what they did; and, (2) feeling like they were part of something bigger than themselves.
Fast forward several years to the advent of Millennials in the workplace, and the paradigm has advanced. The Harvard Business Review reposted CultureQ's Me-to-We continuum in a wonderful article about the intangible things employees want from employers. I think it clearly states the way today's employees want to be "loved":
In my opinion, the most important things to remember when loving your employees is to (1) be consistent and fair with each individual; and, (2) KNOW them - what do they need/like/want.
It may be a different world, but I still firmly believe happy employees will be more productive and create happier customers.