People: The Pivot Point Between Success and Failure

The idea that people are the lifeblood of every business is not new.

On most weekday mornings, I find myself in the same coffee shop, checking email, preparing documents, and scheduling the rest of my day. Kevin is the manager of the coffee house and he always has a kind word, funny story, and some great advice at the ready. Kevin has created a warm, welcoming culture to everyone who comes into the shop.

The idea that people are the lifeblood of every business is not new. It actually seems to be almost cliché, as so many companies advertise this concept as a part of their core cultural values.

But this standard really hit home for me when Kevin went on vacation for a week. After the first day, I noticed that the entire feeling in the coffee house had changed. The staff was still friendly but the little things were missing. By mid-week, the shop seemed a little less clean, the service a bit slower, and the customers less relaxed and comfortable. By the end of the week, I didn’t even bother coming in. I figured that I’d just wait until Kevin got back.

In a very personal way, this experience told me that every company needs to realize that people are their best commodity. Quietly, without anyone really knowing, Kevin was the keeper of the great energy, environment, and success of the coffee house. Without him, the whole place just seemed average.

The message here is that without qualified people who are good at what they do, any company would be in serious trouble. In the long run, the retention of good employees saves companies money and creates more business. As established career authorities and best-selling authors Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans report:

“Studies have found that the cost of replacing lost talent is 70 to 200 percent of that employee’s annual salary. There are advertising and recruiting expenses, orientation, and training of the new employee, decreased productivity until the new employee is up to speed, and loss of customers who were loyal to the departing employee. Finding, recruiting, and training the best employees represents a major investment. Once a company has captured talented people, the return-on-investment requires closing the back door to prevent them from walking out.”

The happy ending to this story is that Kevin is back, and with him the coffee house vibe that helps me get through the week. But if he leaves again, I may just have to find some new morning digs along with the rest of the regulars — and that would be a real shame.