The New Customer: Your Workforce

Pharma companies create consumer loyalty by promising to improve quality of life. The same strategy may work for employee retention.
Apr 01, 2006


Emergent Life Cycle: 8 Stage Diagram
What does it take to keep your employees on board? In the 1980s, employees looked for performance pay. In the 1990s, they wanted job security. Employees' needs have changed as society has, yet one thing has remained the same: Employees are always looking for something more out of their jobs. They want better quality of life at work.

Need a solution? Treat your workforce the way you treat your customers. When you think about improving your customers' quality of life, what do you picture? Someone who lives optimally, achieves goals, and reaches full potential. Now envision your employees in those terms. Are your employees satisfied enough to stay with your company? Quality of life at work helps unlock the door to employee retention—firms that do not align work with employee needs increase the likelihood of able employees quitting, and leaving less talented staff behind.

The following is a guide on how to understand and capitalize on your employee-firm relationship. Remember, retention starts before recruitment, not at resignation.

Causes of Turnover

Many companies view turnover as an inherent cost of operating a business, but a high turnover rate is a red flag that indicates things are not going well. Employers need to pinpoint the breakdowns in the relationship with employees. So, what do these breakdowns look like?

  • Poor job descriptions
  • Unrealistic expectations set by recruiter
  • Team members not prepared for new hire on first day
  • No employee recognition
  • Inflexible work schedules
  • Delayed performance appraisals.

Some of these instances may be easier to pinpoint than others, but the following are more concrete signs that indicate your employee may be leaving:

  • Frequent talk about "burnout"
  • Withdrawal from coworkers or team
  • Reduction or shift in work hours
  • Unusual change in behavior patterns, such as atypical attire or odd lunch hours
  • Loss of interest in work-related areas
  • Reduced productivity
  • Revisting past complaints
  • Increased absenteeism.

Although it is critical to recognize potential breakdowns and signs, the real goal is to find solutions. The mapping of these key phases should be seen as a guide for creating strategic—and sustainable—retention plans.

Employee Life Cycle

The "Emergent Life Cycle" is a retention model and a map that provides a framework for understanding contact between employees and the organization. The following eight stages are the crucial points for helping a firm make favorable impressions on future and current employees, and for formulating a strong retention strategy.

Attraction This first phase is the time when potential employees seek out open positions. Consider what attracts you to other people—confidence, authority, and personality. Employees looking at your company are looking for those same qualities. Just as they want a firm with a strong reputation and a solid work environment, you want a candidate with the appropriate character. Finding someone who fits in with your company culture will be beneficial to both parties in the long run.

Recruitment Think about the way American Idol chooses its candidates. The show picks from a pool of thousands and has to get down to that one final contestant. If the judges chose a winner from a select pool of trained or naturally gifted vocalists, then they could get to their next singing star much easier. But along the way, the judges have to sift through hundreds of unqualified wannabes.