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Station to Station: how an employee’s environment really does matter to you, me and them

It’s 6:50 am on a dark, damp and chilly Northampton morning. My train departs at 7:00 am. I need to buy my ticket. Will I make my train to London Euston or take the next one some 15 minutes later? No time to dawdle.

On arriving at Northampton’s recently opened Castle Station I quickly made my way to the ticket office. No queues. People are making full use of the high number of self-service ticket machines that are available.

I was greeted at the ticket kiosk by a smiling and confident adviser.  My ticket was purchased, receipts supplied and I was wished a pleasant and safe journey. I quickly made my way to the well-directed platform.

I caught my 7:00 am train. My day was off to a good start with a great customer experience.

And what a contrast to my previous experiences at the old and much maligned Northampton station. True, the opening of the new station was delayed but the wait has been worthwhile. Finally, Northampton has the railway station is deserves. I hope we look after it.

But for me it wasn’t just the building, infrastructure and signage that made the big difference. It was how the employees now looked proud to work at the station and appeared to be enjoying it that so impressed me so much. My previous experiences at the old station gave me (what was probably an unintentional) air of a siege mentality. Now these same employees provided a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

So often when we focus on employee engagement, employers can overlook the importance of a safe, clean and suitably equipped working environment. Clearly, the employees’ environment does matter. Employees need to feel proud of where they work. Their place of employment is very much part of their work identity – how can we expect employees to perform at their best if we don’t make them feel valued?

Don’t underestimate the power of the environment when putting your employee engagement strategy together.  Yes, issues such as vision and values, leadership and motivation, communications and teamwork, appropriate pay and benefits etc. are all things that we must consider and factor in. However, your employees also need the right environment to perform at their best. Only then will they deliver the great customer service that you want and your customers deserve.

Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory

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