There’s a famous scene in ‘Office Space’ in which Jennifer Aniston gets fired by her strict boss for “only wearing the minimum amount of flair” as a waitress at her local uber-happy bar & grill. The scene was obviously written to be hilarious and over-the-top, but I imagine a number of waiters, waitresses, and regular employees around the US connected with it. When I think about it, I actually wonder seriously: “was it only ‘flair’ that was meant to make customers feel happy?” A few smiley-face buttons and colorful suspenders?!
Customers’ happiness should stem from employees’ happiness, and not just because of the “happiness is contagious” adage — ever notice how much more generous you are when you’re happy? Everyone’s had a bubbly waitress once in their life it seems. I remember the few truly bubbly waitresses I had; her bubbliness made us ask her for desert recommendations just for fun (after which we joked that she was most likely just upselling us, “but that’s okay because she’s nice”). I imagine (hope, really) that her manager treated the employees of that business well, and it shows in her happiness. As a result, we left a large tip and ordered loads of food in exchange for good times and the extra dollars. The days when businesses paid their employees minimum wage should really be over — because it simply isn’t economically or socially sustainable.
At the same time, keeping employees happy isn’t just about a high wage or lots of flair on your suspenders, it’s about having a culture of respect from both sides and about pursuing a mission your employees care about. There’s a lot being done these days to source food locally, to be green, and to use technology to make things better in industry. These are fantastic in and of themselves, but we shouldn’t forget that it’s the employees we interact with that make a business successful just as much as their product. Treat your employees well, they’ll treat your customers well, and in return your customers will treat your business well.