Doesn't Anybody Work Here? Nametags Impact Employee Communication


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Walmart was the first business to require all its employees to wear nametags. (There's a surprise!) Sam Walton created this initiative because he wanted his customers to “get to know the people they bought from. "

But the value of employee nametags spans far beyond getting to know people, it's all about being approachable. So whether you work in retail, hospitality, food service or sales, to wear a nametag is to be on stage. To be on stage is to be ready to serve your customers. And to be ready to serve your customers is to do your job effectively.

Here are several ways nametags will help your employees maintain an accessible, comfortable business environment.

I have a bad habit of putting too much hot sauce on, well. . . everything. Recently, after I wolfed down a Tobasco covered bite of my cheeseburger, I realized that I desperately needed a refill of ice water to regain feeling in my lips. My server walked right by, but unfortunately I failed to get his attention because I didn't know his name. Why? You guessed it: he wasn't wearing a nametag! No water for me! Fortunately I chugged down my date's ice tea.

Tip # 1: A nametag makes it easier for customers to gain the attention of an employee from whom they need service. Without it, the customers will either find someone else to help them, or won't get what they need.

Imagine you walk into a store. You browse the aisles for a few minutes and decide that you'd like to speak with a sales associate. You look around, see a few people, but nobody appears to be an employee. After wrongfully asking and embarrassing a few strangers who don't actually work there, you get frustrated and leave the store. As you walk out the door, you complain, “Darn it! Doesn't anybody work here?!¨

Tip # 2: The most important rule in retail is to “make a friend in thirty seconds. " The quickest and surest way to do this is to inform and remind customers of your employees’ names. This promotes self-disclosure and creates comfort in the conversation. And when you put your customers at ease, the sales process will be more personable.

Have you ever started a new job and didn't know everyone's name until the third month? Or what about the organization for whom you've contributed ten years and still don't know the name of that curly haired girl from the second floor? Let's face it: people are terrible with names. It's the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten.

Tip # 3: Especially for organizations with hundreds of employees, nametags for your teammates will only ease their pain and contribute to a synergized workplace.

Another invaluable benefit of nametags is that they will transform your employees into ambassadors. It will make them walk their talk. Ask people who work in real estate, they wear nametags every day! Some agents even wear two nametags: one on their shirt and another magnetized to the side of their car! Now, silly as that looks, remember this: everyone will know that Shirley is a representative for Gundaker.

Tip #4: A nametag immediately identifies an employee as an ambassador of the company. As such, it keeps her accountable for her behavior while she wears it and promotes good word of mouth for the business.

Your nametag is just like your company's billboard. Except it's free and people will actually look at it for more than four seconds. So, when customers or clients work with your employees, they will be exposed to your logo, colors and brand identity. As a result your nametag turns into an effective medium for free advertising.

Tip #5: A well designed nametag will constantly keep your company's brand, logo and corporate culture in the minds of your customers and prospects. Because it's not who you know, it's who knows you.

Nametags are fun. Kids like them. Adults like them. They promote friendliness in the workplace and foster a sense of community. And people want to spend their money in places, on items and with people that are welcoming and approachable. Next time you walk into Borders, take a closer look at one of the employees’ nametags. Often times their lanyards will have stickers or pictures of their favorite books on them.

Tip #6: Employees who wear fun, memorable nametags will also show the customers that their business is fun and memorable.

Tag, you're it!

  • Do you want to maximize the approachability of your employees?
  • Do you want your customers to feel comfortable?
  • Does your business value synergy among its employees?
  • Will free promotion, both personal and graphical help promote your business?
  • If you answered yes to any of the above questions, well done! You're on the right track. The next step is to make sure all your employees wear nametags. Because if they don't, you'd better get used to hearing the phrase, “Doesn't anybody work here?!"

    In what store can you NEVER seem to find a nametag-wearing employee?

    Next time you're in need of service and can't find an employee wearing a nametag, ask for the manager. Then find out why his staff isn't wearing nametags. Then tell him to call your friend Scott.

    © 2006 All Rights Reserved.

    Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker and the author of HELLO my name is Scott, The Power of Approachability and How To Be That Guy. He helps people MAXIMIZE their personal and professional approachability - one conversation at a time. To book Scott for your next association meeting, conference or corporate event, contact Front Porch Productions at 314/256-1800 or email

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