Look to consumer experience for staff retention cues
Staff retention discussions once centred around perks such as pool tables and ping pong, subsidised lunches and chill-out lounges. But research has moved well beyond such frivolity, and so are leading businesses – does customer experience strategy provide hints for the future?
While age-old issues such as future career opportunity and salary remain among the top reasons that staff leave a business, the other staple is people management, or employee experience.
While the nice-to-haves mentioned above are certainly a positive, employees are expecting their lives at work to more closely mirror their experiences as consumers.
Jonathan Tabah, Director and Executive Advisor with business research and advisory company Gartner Australasia, said recent technology-driven changes in the consumer space are causing dramatic shifts in staff expectations in the workplace.
He explains what this means to business.
How is the consumer experience changing our expectations of employee experience?
We are all consumers, so changes in the consumer space have considerable impacts on our expectations as employees. In the consumer space, services are becoming easier to use, more intuitive and far more personalised.
They’re also becoming more targeted around not just what we’re trying to do at any given moment, but also around the way we feel about things.
They take into account our entire value system and leverage the power of interpersonal connections. Facebook does this, so it also keeps consumers engaged and retains them on its platform.
How does this compare to the workplace?
When we come to work, we typically log in to our email system or our intranet and we interact with a very clunky, old-school technology designed to robotically serve content and take input.
Our employee experience is falling behind and is beginning to feel foreign from what we’ve grown accustomed to.
Are businesses understanding this issue?
There are a lot of businesses out there that are very focused on employee experience, and the smart ones are now taking their cues from the consumer world.
What sort of consumer experiences are we talking about?
It’s everything from making tasks easier to complete personalisation of a service. One example is the switch from cable TV to Netflix.
On cable TV, you press the guide button and scroll through endless rows of shows. It seems you spend more time scrolling than watching. Then you move to Netflix where the system learns what you like and knows what people with similar tastes have been watching.
They personalise a curated experience for you and cut out all of the noise. Then they provide behavioural nudges, such as direct targeted communications, to let you know when a show that you will probably like is launching.
How might this be reflected in employee experience?
It could be in numerous ways but let’s use, as an example, a company’s learning management system, a portal where the business stores its learning and development tools.
This could be offered as a massive repository or library, with all of the training that’s available, and which employees have to trawl through to find anything useful. That is the cable TV model.
Or it could provide a personally curated experience relevant to the employee’s development needs, as well as clarity into how these training modules might help them in their specific career.
The system might even take the next step, as defined by their unique, personal motivations, and begin proactively nudging them to fill their knowledge gaps via these learning tools in order to advance their careers.
So, a powerful way to increase employee retention is to provide great technology?
No! It’s not just about the technology. Companies that go out and buy the latest technology and expect employee experience to automatically improve don’t actually see much of a change.
They have to improve processes behind the tech. Better technology will offer the capability to do that, but you can’t just change the tech and think your job is done.
About the author
Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.