Today’s workforce landscape is entering a new era. For the first time, five generations are co-existing in the workplace, all with different needs and wants, jostling for their employers’ attention. At the same time, the gig economy is booming. From Baby Boomers to Gens X, Y and Z; acquiring and developing the best talent has never been more challenging.
Companies appreciate the need to keep customers happy, and as employees we are often told to put the customer first. We have whole departments dedicated to ensuring our customers are satisfied and retained. We examine their journeys and touchpoints; offering solutions to ease any pain points. We want to be the best company for our customers and as a result we know our customers and their needs.
However, in 2017, XpertHR found that resignations were at a five-year high and one in seven employees had resigned from their job. 
We are attuned to keeping our customers happy but, whilst employees have been looking after our customers, who has been looking after the them? When it comes to understanding our own people, companies have fantastic insights into human behaviour, so how can we use this to develop our company offer?
If we viewed our employees as savvy consumers who, like our customers, demand more in an increasingly competitive marketplace; then our approach to talent acquisition, development and retention would be revolutionised. If our teams are leaving or choosing competitors, causing profit black holes, what causes this and how can we fix it? What would our companies look like if we approached our employee satisfaction levels with the same rigour we applied to understanding our customers?
By focusing on our employee journey, with a view to easing their pain points, we could take a competitive approach to talent retention.
For example, what would it look like if we started benchmarking ourselves against our employer competition and ensuring that our employees’ needs were met?
Using our customer expertise is a good starting place, using people insight and analytics to understand your people and what they are looking for. If companies want to crack their internal talent acquisition and development issues, then they need to use their people insights to transform their organisation development strategies.
Deal (2007)  has suggested that most generations in the workplace want the same things. Family tops everyone’s list of priorities; and all ages are looking for development and a good work/life balance. If your employees’ pain points are work/life balance issues then look at flexible working, or if they signal a lack of mobility then why not focus on structure and career paths to help keep people engaged.
Employees are ahead of us; they know how to make customers happy and how to be smarter consumers in their approach to the workplace. If they can get a better deal elsewhere, why wouldn’t they (like our customers) move? If we want to attract and retain the best people, then we need to make ourselves more competitive in our talent spaces. For all of this to work we need to create engagement and loyalty; meaning we need to walk the walk when it comes to our employees. It isn’t good enough to focus on pay and benefits; that’s just a hygiene factor now. Instead we need to get serious about employee satisfaction. We don’t blame customers for what they want, we accept and adapt, and now it is time for us to adapt to what the workforce of today wants.
Employees are the secret consumers in our organisations… what are you doing to attract, retain and develop them?
 Deal, J (2007), Retiring the Generation Gap, Jossey-Bass
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