Ask anyone who works in marketing and they will reiterate that the number one priority of the company’s business plan is to put the customer first. In practice that means understanding and catering to their needs and wishes, crafting an exceptional experience and measuring the real impact initiatives are having on the business.
Companies should adopt that same mindset for their employees.
No credible business leader would debate the notion that people are an organization’s most precious resource. In fact, many leaders would rank the happiness and engagement of their workforce above the happiness and engagement of their customers. They will explain their logic this way: we can’t please our customers until we please our employees.
While the relationships between customers and employees is by no means identical, best-in-class businesses believe that you should treat employees like your most loyal customers.
But where do you start? What kinds of retention strategies are applicable to both the people that buy from you as well as the people who work for you? Here are 3 worth considering.
1/ Surprise and delight employees
One of the most effective marketing strategies is to “surprise and delight” customers with a special offer or reward. Surprise and delight is a key component to any loyalty plan; a strategic concept designed to increase the overall value of customer interactions with the brand. When marketers “surprise and delight” their best buyers they are basically saying: we noticed you, we value you and we wanted to thank you.
That message should be the same for employees. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to shock your best workers. In fact, recognition should be linked to a specific action or outcome. But the more you use it, the more you delight employees by noticing them, and the happier they will be.
2/ Make engagement everyone’s responsibility
The cultural expectation of consumer-centric companies is that everyone owns the experience. Why? A unified focus on the customer not only results in better service, it drives retention and loyalty across clients and buyers.
Making employee engagement everyone’s responsibility doesn’t deviate too far from that philosophy and it’s something that social recognition makes possible. Memorable and meaningful gestures of appreciation can come from any source within a company; an employee's manager, the manager's manager, a high-level leader and co-workers can all actively participate.
Employee loyalty is associated with feeling valued within the company. The more active the entire organization is in showing appreciation, the more likely your workforce will stay committed to their work.
3/ Borrow marketing’s metrics
Marketing managers gauge the efficiency of their efforts across two critical metrics; customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLTV). They evaluate marketing investments against its ability to attract and retain customers, along with their ability to generate stronger, incremental revenue while those buyers interact with the brand over time.
Smart companies have taken those same measures and applied them to their people. Employee lifetime value (ELTV) compares the relative return of talent strategies. The longer an employee stays with the company, and the longer they operate in a “fully committed” mode, the higher their lifetime value.
Recognition has a material impact on ELTV scores. The amount of recognition an employee receives has a direct correlation to their decision to stay (or leave). It also influences the degree of efforts, which in turn shapes productivity. The more an employee is recognized, the more committed they are at work and the more productive they are.
Just like marketing manages their metrics, business leaders that continuously track and analyze recognition activities are able to take proactive steps that increase their collective ELTV.