Treating employees like customers is the best retention strategy

August 5, 2022

Global hiring difficulties show no sign of slowing down. Millions of UK workers are considering moving overseas for better career opportunities. And in the US, McKinsey’s recent research reveals around 40% of workers are thinking about leaving their jobs.

HR teams are burned out trying to find new, inventive ways to not only keep talent engaged but also loyal. Studies show a staggering 98% of HR professionals have felt burned out at work in the last six months. Many have introduced one-off initiatives, like offering free lunches or well-being days to keep their staff onboard. While a great quick fix, today’s employees who are struggling to keep pace with economic challenges, are quick to see through these superficial attempts that are lacking long-term impact.

Today, employees are the buyers in the job market, much more like customers than they ever were before. So, to win the talent race, HR teams must work with senior leadership to shift mindsets accordingly. If businesses are going to stand out in an increasingly crowded landscape, they need to stop treating employees like a ‘cog in the wheel and more like long-standing customers. This ‘customer retention’ mindset puts a whole new lens on employee engagement and will help enlightened businesses win in the war for talent.

Create a culture of value

The core of successful customer retention is showing product or service value, and also showing customers just how much they’re appreciated – customers are more likely to remain loyal, invest in additional products and also recommend the brand if they feel valued.

The same goes for employees.

When employees feel recognised and appreciated, they will go the extra mile for their employer. They’re also far less likely to jump ship, allowing for increased employee retention​.

To create a feeling of value, businesses should never treat employees as if they are all the same – just as customers have their own preferences and tendencies, the same goes for how an employee treats and views their workplace.

HR teams must give employees a highly personalised experience while at work. Think Netflix and Amazon. Both 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, allowing for tailored employee experiences. For instance, HR tools can help managers keep on top of employees’ work anniversaries and also personal milestones, alerting them when it’s time to send a gift. It’s about building a workplace culture of value that recognises its employees.

Make listening a priority

Similar to how customers are asked about the type of service they’re after, HR teams must encourage constant communication across the workforce, so they can better understand what their teams want out of their working lives.

Making it easy for employees to share feedback will help any business retain top talent. Asking employees what they want using pop-up surveys via HR portals or even chatbots that can provide 24-Hour support, 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, feedback forms must always remain anonymous so that employees can share feedback however they wish, with no judgment.

An open dialogue also makes employees feel safe discussing awkward topics. For instance, most employees are unlikely to ask for a pay rise due to the fear of rejection. Yet, working in an environment that encourages openness, employees will feel far more confident and comfortable approaching difficult topics.

It’s also a good idea to monitor intent behind searches. For example, if employees are continually searching for your maternity policy, this indicates that this information is not easy to find or it’s not easy to understand. Frustrations over a lack of understanding of workplace support or benefits could potentially push an employee away.

Reimagine employee retention

Ultimately, whether employees stay with a company in the long term boils down to how well they’re treated. When employees feel respected and listened to, they’re more likely to stay loyal. If they don’t feel their voice is being heard, they may become another statistic in the great resignation.

To retain valued workers, catering to their needs and providing a nurturing environment where they can thrive, has to be a priority for any business.