The retention crisis: should we be treating employees more like customers?

Businesses are still very much battling retention issues, as talent continues to move between companies at pace. In the last six months alone, one in ten workers said they had quit their jobs, resulting in the highest UK quit rate since 2009

HR teams have been left scrambling, looking at different ways to not only keep talent engaged, but also loyal. Many have introduced several unconnected initiatives, like offering free lunches or one-off bonuses to salvage any attempt at keeping their staff onboard. While a great quick fix, today’s employees are quick to see through these superficial attempts that are lacking long-term impact.  

Forward-thinking HR leaders are aligning themselves with senior leadership teams to shift mindsets on the best way to approach their employees. Businesses have already started treating their employees like customers, rather than simply a ‘cog in the wheel’. Employees are the buyers in the job market, much more like customers than they ever were before.  

Only businesses who change their mentality on how they view their employees will attract and retain talent in an increasingly crowded landscape. Those that don’t, will fall behind. 

Showing the value 

Showing product or service value is at the core of successful customer retention. And also showing customers just how much they are valued too – customers who feel valued are more likely to remain loyal, invest in additional products or services, and also recommend to their friends and family. Well, the same goes for employees. 

When employees feel valued, they will be willing to go the extra mile for their employer. Plus, they are much less likely to leave the company, allowing for increased employee retention​. To create a feeling of value, businesses need to avoid falling into the trap of treating employees as if they are all the same. This means ensuring their HR teams have all the tools needed to give employees a highly personalised experience while at work. Think of brands like Netflix and Amazon, that offer bespoke mobile-first experiences, right at the consumer’s fingertips. HR leaders can learn from this by deploying HR platforms in the same way to adapt to their employees’ lives. This allows for a truly tailored employee experience. For instance, HR tools can help managers to keep on top of employees’ work anniversaries or personal milestones and nudge them to send gifts. 

Customer experience to work experience 

A culture of listening also needs to sit at the heart of any retention strategy. This means encouraging constant open dialogue across the workforce, which will in turn help employers better understand what their teams want out of their working lives. Similar to how customers are asked about the type of service they’re after. 

For instance, making it easy for employees to share feedback in the moment will help any business retain top talent. Asking what employees want in relevant locations, such as with chatbots on help pages, and listening to their critiques means HR teams will not waste time on initiatives that aren’t of interest to their staff. They can instead get to the root of improving their employee experience quickly. Although, businesses should always aim to ensure feedback forms remain anonymous to enhance engagement. Investing in both anonymous and easy reporting channels, means employees can share feedback however they wish, with no judgement. 

An open dialogue also makes employees feel safe discussing awkward topics. Most employees turn squeamish when it comes to asking for a pay rise due to the fear of rejection and regret. Yet, working in an environment that encourages openness, employees will feel far more confident and comfortable approaching difficult topics.  

Another example of creating a culture of listening is monitoring intent behind searches, with tools such as Applaud. If your employees are continually searching for your maternity policy, or asking specific questions about your maternity policy, then that would indicate that either it’s not easy to find or it’s not easy to understand. Without running a survey or asking a single employee a question, you know that you have some work to do there. 

A new way of thinking 

The retention crisis may seem like a big issue but there are many initiatives to help businesses stay ahead of the game. Changing mindsets and showing employees their true value to the business is one key way to do this.  

Ultimately, when employees feel they have been listened to, they are more likely to stay loyal when approached by competitors. If they don’t feel their voice has been heard, they may become another statistic in the great resignation. 


About the Author

Ivan Harding, CEO and Co-Founder at Applaud. Applaud is the workforce experience layer that makes digital HR simple. Applaud was founded in 2008 by Ivan Harding and Duncan Casemore, driven by a mission to create HR technology that focused completely on the employee. Applaud’s layer is designed to support your existing HR services, reigniting your existing HR technology, not replacing them to deliver one united workforce experience. 

Featured image: ©Elnur Amikishiyeev

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