A few days ago, I came across a very interesting Q&A with Cathy Fraser, CHRO of Mayo Clinic. The exclusive interview, which centred on “The Employee as a Consumer”, really resonated with me and so I wanted to share my thoughts on why businesses should ensure they are treating employees in a similar way to their consumers.
The first step companies need to take, is to look at how much time and what resources are put into creating client preference. The world of retail, for example, constantly competes for consumer time and attention, more often than not with identical products and services. Millions each year is spent on customer engagement, advertising and research. Now consider how much is invested into attracting, engaging and retaining the right employees…
Whatever the industry, one rule always stands:
Staff members are the most influential factor when it comes to delivering a strong and positive customer experience.
Therefore, it is imperative that businesses stop to consider how they might ensure they are offering their employees a strong and positive experience in the workplace. At every step of the recruitment process and employment, a staff member should understand their importance and role in delivering the brand.
Let’s take it back a step, and consider why employees are more like consumers, so we can better understand the necessary change to company HR.
- A shift in attitude to work and needs: it’s becoming increasingly common for consumers to associate themselves with a particular brand. Apple springs to mind, where buyers will have an iPhone, Apple watch, Mac and iPad because they believe in the brand and wouldn’t dare buy from Samsung. Employees are very similar in that they don’t just want a job, but also a vocation that aligns with their organisational beliefs, even if it might mean being paid less.
- An increase in growing an employment portfolio: it’s now rare for a staff member to be with one company for their whole life. Instead, employees are constantly thinking ahead to building a strong CV for future positions. This aligns with the housing market where buyers consider location and the potential value of the property if they decide to sell in the future.
- Individual brand preferences: following on from point two, an employee will always consider how working for a particular company will look on their CV, for when the time comes to move on. Just like many people wear certain brands of clothing or like to drive a particular make of car as a status symbol, they see particular company logos on their CV as a way of portraying their personal brand.
- Minimal obstacles to switching jobs: LinkedIn has changed the game when it comes to recruiting. Employees and potential employers can find each other mush more easily through “social recruiting”. Employees who may be happy in their current role could see an advertised job while casually scrolling through a website and decide to apply on a whim.
- Skills shortage: we have seen an increase in skills shortage in recent years and it has made companies more aggressive with poaching staff. Companies who are on the ball are willing to invest in talent to grow their business. They know who they want and they make it happen.
Keeping the above in mind, companies need to question how they are engaging with the needs of their employees and what changes they have to make to attract and retain the right kind of staff members.
- Target recruitment to those who are fundamentally motivated by what the company does: once talent has been identified, segmentation should occur to ensure that potential employees share the values and common purpose to drive the business forward.
- See employees as individuals: no one likes to be mass marketed to. It’s the quickest way for a business to be ignored by potential customers. Employees are no different and so companies should take genuine interest in each of their staff members to refrain from using a “one size fits all” approach to HR and their wellbeing.
- Ensure strategies impact employees daily: staff bonuses, initiatives and targets should be measured over the short term. Employees will lose focus sooner if they have to work to quarterly or annual goals. It is important for companies to consider how many major initiatives in the last few years have really provided value to their employees.
- Measure employee satisfaction: just like businesses measure consumer fulfilment in their products or service, employee satisfaction should also be measured. When internal contentment is measured, strengths in staff experience can be celebrated whilst also prioritising which areas may need to be improved.
- Managers are employees too: businesses often promote staff members to a managerial position when they may not yet have the skill set or experience. They are often left to manage a team but then are rarely included in developing strategies to enact with the employees. Companies should look to managers at the early stage of the recruitment/employee satisfaction process, as they often have a better idea of what team members want or need to positively change the organisation.
Businesses never stop evolving, and although much research has been done on how to approach consumers through sales and marketing, we now need to listen and understand employees to the same effect. As consumers, we only pay attention to messages that are individually relevant to us – does your company approach capture the attention of your employees?
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