Protecting Employees from Abusive Clients

Protecting Employees from Abusive Clients

Corporate culture is more than protecting your employees from each other and the perils of internal daily operations. Employers must also be willing to protect employees from abusive clients.  

When employers think of corporate culture, their grasp of it may only extend to the internal operations of the business. It’s true that the factors that effect corporate culture exist primarily in the workplace itself. Corporate culture in general is the daily manifestation of how operations, policies, and enforcement of those policies effect both personnel, workflow, and the overall success of the company. Succinctly, corporate culture measures how easily employees are able to thrive in a particular work space.

There are plenty of internal issues that could cause corporate culture to decline, including unsafe practices, poorly-enforced policies, and problem employees with a repeated, pervasive pattern of misconduct in their position. One factor that most employers choose to gloss over or ignore completely is the factor of toxic clientele in the business. Many industries operate around the sacred creed of “the customer is always right.” No matter how dissatisfied or irate a customer or client becomes, it is the duty of the employee to rectify the situation in any way possible. Low to mid-level employees are often expected to take the brunt of the customer’s anger and accept responsibility for mistakes that might not be their fault. As long as the customer leaves the business appeased, the ends justify the means. However, this often has a lasting effect on employees that can affect the business in the long term.

Corporate culture moves in a cycle. As leadership with power, employers are control of how that cycle begins and ends. When employers take care of their employees—pay them a fair wage, give them a safe environment to do their jobs, and enforce policy in a way that seeks to improve the culture—employees feel valued and are more inclined to fully engage in their jobs. Full engagement from employees results in higher productivity with a higher quality of work. That benefit is then passed on to the customer or client, resulting in returns for the business. This pleases leadership, incentivizing them to further reward their employees—thus the cycle begins anew. Employers are the members of the corporation with the most power to disrupt this cycle.

In dealing with clients, the professional landscape is seeing a disappointing lack of employers willing to protect employees from abusive clients. After all, they should be courting their business, but there should be a hard line that clients can cross that give leadership the option to “fire” a client. As awareness of policy enforcement and how it effects the workplace continues to develop, more professionals are posting their experiences with toxic clients on social media. Houston Golden, one of the founders of a company known as BAMF, posted about his experience with a toxic client on his LinkedIn profile. “I fired my biggest client for calling my employee ‘retarded.’ She called me at 9:47 PM. “Houston, I don’t know if he’s under-paid, untrained, or just simply retarded. Do you have anyone that can replace him?” I was shocked…” Golden felt the client had crossed a line, and as a result, discontinued doing business with her. This is a measure that saves other employees from being exposed to deplorable behavior, and such action from an employer is a message to other employees that such behavior will not be tolerated, and the happiness of employees is more important than an abusive client.

When employees feel valued by leadership, they commit themselves to their duties in a meaningful way. The ripple effects of a workforce that feels valued will extend to the bottom line. Employees give 110% and the business sees a profitable return on their daily operations. This is what a healthy corporate culture looks like. If your corporation is having a problem with its corporate culture, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit services. Call 317-951-1100 or find us online at