The idea of having a particular culture at a place of business as being the key to retaining employees is enticing, but it takes a complete commitment to the success of everyone involved with a business to be a great place to work over time. Having a ping-pong table in the break room doesn’t give you a long-term sustainable culture or make a business successful.

Business continuity is dependent upon growth, productivity, and profitability. Building a great place to work takes commitment to customers, employees, and everyone involved.

Treating customers as important is obviously necessary for any business, but treating customers with respect and striving to help the customer get what they want is very different than striving to get the most from the customer.

Unfortunately, some organizations consider a customer need as a nuisance rather than considering a customer need as an objective to fulfill. If a customer (the one who ultimately pays the bills) is used as a means to an end, unimportant, or someone to take something from, reflects a poor culture, the same attitude will likely be reflected on how employees are treated within the business over time.

Today’s retail environment has been dramatically changed and any retail store must work extremely hard to provide value to their customers in order to survive. Most people have experienced a rude or an uncaring sales clerk and walked out of a store without purchasing anything as a consequence.

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All businesses make the choice to work for their customers or do anything to “make a buck.” If the message sent is to take advantage of the customer for profit, the culture is fairly well defined and a few incentives, like a ping-pong table for employee use, aren’t going to change the culture for the better.

Many years ago, I visited a business in the northeast that was owned by a family I respected highly. As we walked through the operation, I noticed certain things that seemed “out of place” – like office equipment in the warehouse. Upon inquiry the owner-manager informed me things were not out of place but were there because they felt each of the people had the ability to do the jobs right and were equally smart.

I greatly admired the man and so did most of the employees who worked with him. He treated everyone with respect and dignity, knowing they had the ability to succeed. The business succeeded and the people all prospered. Not only were the employees treated this way, but customers, suppliers and everyone associated with the business received respect.

This is an example of a real business culture built on real values, which make a great culture for work.

Long-term sustainable success requires treating customers, employees, and all others involved with an organization with respect and dignity, combined with the true drive to see everyone succeed.