Why Zingerman's treats their employees like customers

“I have no right to ever expect that someone that works for us is going to give a higher level of service to a guest than I’m willing to give to the employee,” Paul Saginaw said. Saginaw co-founded Zingerman’s Deli, famous for big sandwiches, happy customers, and loyal employees.

Saginaw shared some of the practices that have made their employees act and think like business owners at the re:Work 2014 event. Compared to other organizations in the service industry, Zingerman’s invests a lot in their employees and sees lower turnover and higher customer satisfaction.

Zingerman's makes sure that the vision for each of their businesses is clear to all employees (e.g., at the Deli that means making a sandwich that requires two hands to eat). Zingerman’s also employs open book accounting where all employees can see the company financial information. This pushes decision-making out to all employees, distributes responsibility, and makes all employees accountable. Saginaw told the story of how during the recent recession, faced with the prospect of not being able to meet payroll, all the employees came together and decided amongst themselves to take pay cuts because they knew it would return the business to profitability.

Read more about why Saginaw thinks more information is better when it comes to his employees.