Customer experience is all about the customer, but too often companies forget about their first customers: their employees. When employees are engaged and empowered at work, they more naturally want to serve customers and make a difference. There’s a reason the best places to work are also typically companies with great customer experiences. This week brought three stories of employee engagement and how companies should treat and engage with their employees.
Chipotle Receives Record Punishment For Child Labor
Chipotle was recently hit with more than 13,000 child labor violations and a $1.3 million fine—a record high—for violating Massachusetts labor laws. The restaurant regularly worked underage teenagers for more than 48 hours a week and often past midnight at more than 50 locations. The violations came to light after the teenage employees complained about the long work hours and not being able to keep up with their homework. Chipotle also repeatedly hired underage employees without work permits.
The severity of Chipotle’s punishment shows the importance of treating employees right and following labor laws. Teenage employees are common at fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle, largely because they require lower wages and are flexible, but that doesn’t mean that companies can treat them poorly. Chipotle’s mistakes in Massachusetts could potentially highlight violations by other restaurants in other areas and bring more attention to the lawful and ethical treatment of employees, especially those who are underage.
Delta Ditches Uniforms Amid Lawsuit
After hundreds of Delta employees filed a lawsuit against Lands’ End last month claiming their uniforms caused health problems, Delta announced this week it will move to new uniforms. The change is expected to cost Delta millions of dollars. The lawsuit came after more than 500 Delta employees, mostly flight attendants and gate agents, reported that the Lands End uniforms caused problems including difficulty breathing, blisters, nosebleeds and migraines. Delta’s testing shows that the uniforms are safe, but additional tests by employees found chemicals in the fabric. Delta’s new uniforms will roll out later this spring.
Because Delta couldn’t find a solution that helped all of its employees, it went back to the drawing board to create completely new uniforms. Even though only a small portion of employees complained about health issues from the uniforms, it was enough for Delta to make a major change. Uniforms play a large role in employees’ comfort and their ability to serve customers. By releasing new uniforms, Delta is hoping to rebuild its public image and get back in the good graces of all of its employees.
More Americans Are Working From Home Than Ever Before
The American workplace is definitely changing with shifts in both demographics and location. New research shows that the number of full-time employees working from home increased from 0.7% in 1980 to 3% in 2017. Working from home used to be solely for freelancers and entrepreneurs, but a growing number of companies are allowing their full-time employees to work remotely, especially in management, finance and sales. Working from home is most prevalent in Boulder, Colorado, where a staggering 9% of full-time employees work remotely.
This research highlights changes in the workforce. Instead of being forced into the office from 8-5 every day, employees now have the freedom to work from home with more flexibility. Working from home tends to provide more comfort and requires employees to spend less time commuting. Remote working comes with its own set of challenges, but if it matches the goals of the employee, it can create a great environment and build employee engagement.
Employees want to be valued and understood by their organizations. The world of work is changing, but the need to connect with and empower employees has never been greater. These stories show that when companies connect with employees and listen to them, it can create a stronger culture and overall experience.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and the author of two books including her new book The Customer Of The Future. You can learn more by signing up for her newsletter here.