Even with the sustained heartbeat, one can easily tell that the once yummy girl – Uchumi Supermarket – is struggling to live, probably crafting her will, whose pages will be shared among the many suppliers she owes.
She has been bleeding for a number of years now, and to say that she is now pale is an understatement. That girl is not only withdrawn but has lately been forcing a vague smile, a clear sign that all the plastic surgeries in form of restructuring and the numerous financial injections did not work.
As we prepare for a fundraiser or a burial ceremony for Kenya’s only publicly traded retailer, many questions are being asked. Was Jonathan Ciano a mortician? Or was he a neurosurgeon who delayed his exit from the theatre, only to carry the cross for the nurses who forgot to dispense the follow-up doses.
Either the PR practitioners locally known as snake charmers had a role to play in this. What did they do to engage and manage the internal stakeholders of this giant retailer?
World over, the components of a strong company – in any industry – can be focused down to four critical areas. Good management, good products/services, good customer service and good employees. As a business owner, the first two are relatively easy to control. But how do you assure that your employees treat your customers in such a way that they stay happy and repeat customers?
Unhappy employee = unhappy customer
Customers can tell in an instant whether they are dealing with a happy or unhappy employee. Unhappy employees often take out their frustration and unhappiness on the customers. This happens when we you have to pack your stuff at the tills, break your nails as you rummage through your handbag for the elusive coins as well as when a 45-minute shopping walk around the supermarket yields twenty percent of your requirements.
A happy employee will do all he or she can do make a customer happy. They will get the trolley across the road to where you have parked; they will save you the hustle of explaining why milk should not be packed alongside mosquito coils. They do all this because they want to retain their job and they have an interest in seeing the company flourish.
Regardless of how much you pay your employees, good companies understand the value of good employees, especially in such a competitive industry. Therefore, each company does everything it can to make its employees happy
So how does the average company keep its talent happy and productive?
A good place to start is to understand that public relations applies to your employees, as it does to your customers. The company that understands that it’s most valued asset is hardworking, productive employees, will create and implement an internal PR programme to keep its employees in great form.
Aside from the obvious – competitive salaries, benefits and bonuses – employees want to know that their work matters, that they are appreciated and that they will be rewarded for their effort.
That is why many companies have instituted reward programs that are administered on a team rather than an individual. It is often risky to pick out a few employees and reward them. This creates animosity and completion which is counterproductive. If a company division or team is productive, all members should be rewarded in some form or another.
The most effective internal brand engagement programme for employees costs less and is easier to implement. This simply involves the boss or manager sitting down with an employee and telling them that they are doing a good job and it is being appreciated. Especially for younger workers who are trying to establish careers, this works wonders. The fact that their boss has taken time to tell them they are doing a great job and the company appreciates them is often worth more than a cost of living raise.
Certainly backing up praise with money is better and expected, but taking the extra time to give each employee some personal attention is something too many companies neglect, thinking that wallet size is everything
That fat cheque is a definite yes, but so is identifying personal achievements and contributions to the company. Whether it is tangible rewards such as a raise, personal attention, company outings or whatever, every company that values its business will value its employees and go the extra mile to assure each employee knows it.
This article was first published in Business Today