Why HR should treat staff like customers not colleagues

December 12, 2016 Geoffroy De Lestrange

It’s not a new story to hear that talent retention is becoming increasingly difficult. In thriving economies, in particular, the relationship between employees and businesses is now two-way. Rather than prospective employees having to win over employers with their experience and impressive CV, businesses now have to demonstrate why someone should work for them – and perhaps more importantly, why someone should continue to work for them.

This new dynamic is not unlike trying to get a potential customer to buy from your business instead of your competitor’s.  Yet it’s all too common that once we’ve hired an employee, they aren’t always given the same individualised care and support you might strive to give to a customer.

To keep employees loyal and motivated in your company, HR must balance organisational needs with employee needs. Your employees need to believe in your company. Our study with IDC showed that employee “happiness”, pride in their workplace and willingness to recommend it to others, directly correlates with employee autonomy  Even if an employee is happy in their current job role, they will take the call for a potential new one. HR has to help staff continue developing so they stay.

It’s easy to take employees for granted, and we never really think to upsell to our staff as we would to our customers. So how can we change this? What are some strategies that can boost staff loyalty and make sure they feel appreciated?

Help them monitor their career with goal setting

Setting measurable goals for any project is an excellent way to track progress and success, so why not do the same for staff? Setting clear benchmarks and expectations for where an employee should be or what they should have achieved within a certain timeframe can be a great motivator. Better yet, if some kind of result or consequence is tied to this goal, they’ll be even more driven to be successful and productive. Online tools are a simple and effective way to manage these for all your staff in one place.

Stretch their potential

Your staff may be comfortable in their role, but that may also make them complacent or bored. Stretch assignments can be an excellent way to challenge and extend the skills of your people. This could be in the form of an employee doing their same role but in a new city, or working in a different team. Cornerstone’s Career Trends Report found 77% of American employees would be willing to relocate for work, even on a temporary basis, and almost 50% would work an extra hour a day to do so. The statistics speak for themselves.

Similarly, enabling employees to be responsible for their own career direction and development will ensure they can envision future possibilities with your firm.  Our recent study with IDC revealed that employees who score higher for happiness, pride in their workplace and willingness to recommend it to others, are also those employees who have greater autonomy, the power to manage their career, and are trusted to do so by their employer.  

Make talent a focus of your culture

Boston Consulting Group research has shown that companies whose leaders have made talent a focus of their business have 2.6 times higher revenue growth than other companies that don’t. This focus also resulted in 1.7 times higher profit margins. It makes sense – if your staff feel like they’re being cared for and developing all the time, it’s likely they will be more productive and more invested in their work. (OR here??)

Encourage collaboration

Learners want to collaborate – even if it’s a simple task, it can expand others’ skills. If you have an employee who specialises in a particular skill or tool that could benefit others, have them give a presentation or film a video tutorial so others can learn that skill too. This kind of knowledge sharing is key for development and a simple way to bring teams together and boost engagement.

Learning and growth must be a priority from the top down, and has to be visible to all staff. You may be reading this thinking that all of these things are available within your company – but how often are your staff reminded of that? Do they know about their options?

As you build in these tactics, make sure you’re putting in measures for HR’s success in implementing these efforts. Define benchmarks for the outcomes you want, be that having a strong leadership pipeline, retaining key talent, improving employee engagement or more. Remember: your company’s external customers may drive profits, but it’s your internal customers that bring in your external customers – so make sure you help them be the best they can be!

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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