The rewards of serving others and how employers can harness the benefits

  • Mary Lynn Fayoumi

    Mary Lynn Fayoumi

 
By Mary Lynn Fayoumi
HR Source
Updated 9/21/2022 11:14 AM

All eyes have been on the United Kingdom since the passing of their beloved Queen Elizabeth II. Like millions around the globe, I've marveled at her plethora of accomplishments over the years.

While reflecting on the Queen's legacy, one common thread shines most brightly and may well be the reason that she was so successful in her role for seven decades. That thread is service to others.

 

While there is much debate regarding the effectiveness of the monarchy in today's society, there is little doubt that Queen Elizabeth carried out her official duties in way that endeared her to both her subjects and the world.

Before assuming the throne, the then Princess demonstrated her devotion to service by joining the women's branch of the British army and training as a car mechanic during World War II. More than 70 years later, in a letter marking her Platinum Jubilee, she wrote, "I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability … ."

In a time when employee engagement is dropping and turnover is rising, focusing on service may prove critical to reversing these trends. In fact, studies continue to show that service to others provides people with both meaning and purpose in life. If employers can harness the benefits of serving others by incorporating them into their employees' jobs, a multitude of rewards will result.

Studies by Carnegie Mellon University, Psychology Today and Mayo Clinic have all shown that volunteering offers a wide array of benefits. From improving social skills and life expectancy to decreasing depression and blood pressure, helping others is truly a proven way to help yourself. The upside is that these positive benefits can also accrue to those who get paid for being of service to others.

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As reported recently in the Harvard Business Review: "The good news is that each of us, in our day jobs, have innumerable opportunities to serve. But it's often challenging for us to see those opportunities and for companies to emphasize them."

Certain professions, teaching and nursing for example, have traditionally been associated with a service focus, but these only scratch the surface. In fact, most every job has the potential to have some essential responsibilities which are service-oriented. It may just require us to think more broadly about the various groups who could be served.

While it's commonplace for companies to quote catch phrases like, "the customer is king," it's important for organizations in all industries to expand the definition of customer to include other key stakeholders.

Many employers have already successfully embraced the value and practice of treating colleagues like customers and serving internal customers with as much care as we do an external one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Make this part of your organization's culture by expressing appreciation, showing respect, admitting mistakes and supporting others. Leaders and managers must consistently model and reinforce these behaviors. When they do, improved performance and elevated employee engagement follow.

For some organizations, it may require more effort to connect the dots between each person's role and the customer. Not every job is customer-facing, but that by no way means that the opportunity to serve is diminished.

Given the well-documented personal and business rewards of serving others, it's worth the effort to highlight and demonstrate ways that people can tap into these valuable benefits.

• Mary Lynn Fayoumi is President and CEO of HR Source.

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