“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Stephen Covey

Before you read this article, look around the office or think about the workers, managers and leaders in your organisation. Do they make up a good representation of your customer population? Well, they should. In our increasingly multicultural and globalised market, organisations that value diversity have a greater ability to meet and exceed the needs of their varied customer base. They also do a better job at attracting and retaining high performers. They start by casting the net wide enough to attract talent with diverse perspectives, experiences, and contributions—then build and nurture an environment where their people are engaged and enabled to create a fantastic customer experience.

It’s been seven years since the Fair Work Act banned discrimination in the workplace in Australia but progress in achieving diversity is still painstakingly slow. Women and other underrepresented groups continue to fight for fair access to opportunities in the workforce. We just need to look at the statistics from the WGEA to realise that there is a lot of work to be done to make the workplace more inclusive and diverse.

A way to invite and foster diversity in your organisation is by linking your employee engagement and customer programs. In our report, Joining the Dots, we’ve highlighted eight factors that are key to enabling your people and your business to deliver what your customers expect. One of these factors, inclusiveness, means having a workforce that reflects the make-up and mindset of your customer base, so it can better serve its needs.

Fundamental to a customer focused engagement program is having the human capital needed to deliver for the customer

An excellent customer experience begins with a strong understanding of your customers and to achieve that you need to work with your customer insight team to make sure you understand the variety of segments you’re trying to reach, and their different priorities and needs. Then work with your learning and development team to understand what behaviours your employees need in order to deliver the customer promise.

To make it happen your recruitment strategy has to target people with the range of skills, personalities and attitudes needed to serve your different customer segments. When you’re hiring, try to involve relevant customer-facing employees in the job-scoping process so you can ensure your job adverts make clear the sort of person who will fit the role.

Using data from your engagement survey

Essential to engagement surveys is a core construct that enables diversity and inclusionthat all opinions count and everyone gets their say.  Used effectively, an engagement survey can inform and enable you to make decisions that improve the experience for all especially highlighting views from groups that may be less represented at the leadership tableWhen every person is fully contributing, every part of the organisation reaps the benefits.

Here are some pointers to ensure you are getting the most out of your employee engagement survey to support your inclusivity and diversity agenda and ensure your organisation delivers a great customer experience.

  • Make sure that your survey includes questions that will reflect perceptions of diversity and inclusion and that will help you plan to win and keep customers. For example:
    – add a question around how the company deals with diversity of ideas
    – ask if your employees have what they need to deliver for the customer
  • Segment the employee survey results by demographics as these can be used to highlight trends. But be careful that they don’t in themselves reinforce generalisations about how or what this group thinks. At the heart of any employee or customer group is an individual.
  • Remember your insights from these surveys will be limited to the population you are surveying. If you have a lot of churn across your diverse populations or are not attracting them in the first place you might be missing a critical piece of the puzzle.  Look to examine and capture populations that are opting out of your business or workplace through exit interviews as well as those who are staying.

Organisations that make a meaningful connection between their employee and customer programs are the ones that succeed in today’s multicultural markets – those that don’t lose out. We will be discussing the employee engagement and customer links in our upcoming webinar with Qantas: How to create an engagement program that improves the customer experience. Join us on 4 May to learn more.




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About Contributor

Wendy is a Director at Korn Ferry Hay Group. She focuses on Executive Team Development, Leadership Development, Diversity and Emotional Intelligence. Wendy is passionate about helping senior executives become more effective leaders. She understands the impact great leadership has on people performance, and has extensive experience in aligning people and organisational design with business strategies.

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