Within the economic environment of the 21st century, customers have been increasingly placed in the focus of attention as the key stakeholders for the majority of companies. This stance is supported by the stakeholder theory developed by Edward Freeman. Its key ideas imply that the majority of resources of an organization should be allocated to meet the needs of its customers. This way, the true value of the business is said to be created through the alignment of expectations and reality from the clients’ perspective (Freudenreich et al., 2020). Indeed, the stakeholder theory is in line with the general prevalence of person-centered ideas within the society of the 21st century. In most cases, people remain the focus of discussion, as opposed to economic profits.
However, the stakeholder theory may be expanded to reflect the objective reality to a better degree. The author of the theory himself admits that there have been some tensions in terms of the theory’s comprehensiveness (Freeman et al., 2020). When the discussion is held in regards to the people in business, the notion tends to be associated with the customers. At the same time, the role of the organization’s employees in business processes is often underestimated. Prossack (2019) states that there is a direct positive correlation between the concepts of employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. This idea is supported by Dosik (2015) who notes that the level of thoughtfulness directed at the customer’s should match its counterpart in the case of the employees. This position appears to be reasonable, as the purpose of an organization, as per the stakeholder theory, is to create positive value for the business.
The value does not create itself – it is done by the employees. With satisfied and motivated workers, the product of the company is likely to improve naturally, ultimately creating a valuable synergy. Otherwise, the lack of attention to the employees’ needs may lead to a lack of motivation and increased turnover, which is detrimental to the company (Bamfo et al., 2018). Thus, employees should be considered as the titular stakeholders, as well, within the theory. It does not mean that consumers are less important and should be treated accordingly. As in many other cases, balance is the key to success.
Bamfo, B. A. et al. (2018) ‘Abusive customer behaviour and frontline employee turnover intentions in the banking industry: the mediating role of employee satisfaction’, Cogent Business & Management, 5(1), 1522753.
Dosik, D. (2015) Why we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers. TED. Web.
Freeman, R. E. et al. (2020) ‘Tensions in stakeholder theory’, Business & Society, 59(2), pp. 213-231. Web.
Freudenreich, B. et al. (2020) ‘A stakeholder theory perspective on business models: value creation for sustainability’, Journal of Business Ethics, 166, pp. 3-18. Web.
Prossack, A. (2019) How employee satisfaction affects customer satisfaction. Forbes. Web.