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What's Happened to the Spirit of Customer Service?

To me, it feels like the 'spirit' of customer service has been deflating in recent years.  Why?  In part, I believe life itself has become more of a challenge to navigate, which can take away from the energy to perform effectively in the workplace.  It can be hard to stay focused at work when the bills are due at home.  How can someone do their best at work when a loved one is deployed in a foreign country?  Or what if the employee is battling an illness?  Will the employee even report to work when they are facing some of life's toughest challenges? 

For all the talk about work/life balance, I think the workforce is in a quandary and may not be able to separate work expectations from home obligations.  Having a healthy work/life balance is critical for employees to be effective in the workplace.  As I reflect on previous situations in which employees have been coached on sub-par performance or attendance, a large percentage of those performance issues were due to work/life balance challenges. 

Spirit of customer service

Let's face it; life is sometimes a struggle - and more of a battle for others.  Speaking for myself, I had to take time away from work recently because I encountered work/life balance challenges while caring for my mother.  I want to challenge leaders to invest heavily in their number one resource: the employee.  Present more work/life balance programs and be sure they are diverse, as life struggles are vastly different.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 6 U.S. adults lives with a mental illness.  The U. S. General states untreated mental disorders indirectly cost businesses $79 billion annually from lost productivity and absenteeism.  As leaders, how can you respond?

 Utah based company CHG Healthcare incorporated on-site mental health services after noticing a high percentage of visits to its on-site health clinic were related to mental health issues.  And notably, CHG made Forbes magazine's 'Best Company to Work for' list for the ninth year in a row.  Nichole Thurman, vice president of talent management at CHG said 'providing the mental health clinic was less about the money and more about taking a holistic approach to providing for the health and overall well-being of employees'.  By having on-site services available, issues and needs are caught earlier which helps reduce absenteeism and enhance productivity.  

Some other companies use a hybrid approach for those employees who may feel stigmatized with using on-site mental health services.  For example, AbleTo Incorporated offers phone or secured video mental health services which are used by Aetna's Healthcare's commercial line of business.  Both of these companies have seen a more productive and present workforce as a result of these services.

 What does your company do to support work/life balance? What could you do? No matter what you roll out, make sure your employees know the benefits exist. Also, be sure employees understand Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are entirely confidential. 

 We must remain in tune with the needs and challenges of our employees to ensure they have the most effective work/life balance initiatives available.  The result?  I think we will begin to see a rebirth of the spirit that has been missing from customer service.  And that spirit will come across to our customers.

 Sources: 

Forbes.com, These Employers Are Taking Millennials' Mental Health Seriously.  Kaytie Zimmerman.  October 9, 2017

Utah company offers at-work mental health counseling - Deseret News, Utah, Jason Lee, February 21, 2018

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