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Talent Retention and the 7 Needs of Employees

Business leaders agree that finding quality talent is a continuous challenge, but keeping valued employees can be even more difficult. With increasingly selective talent pools and volatile economic climates, many employers are working to identify and address the elements within their firms that support--or sabotage--employee retention.

Bill PriceIn a conversation with i4cp, Bill Price, founder and president of Driva Solutions, a company that helps organizations achieve greater customer loyalty via their customer-facing operations, outlined his views on the current state of talent retention. Price, who spoke at the i4cp 2015 Conference, was Amazon's first vice president of global customer service, responsible for all customer service activities--including the management of contact centers in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and India.

A leading expert in the field of customer relationship management, Price is a frequent industry speaker and writer, and teaches the subject at the graduate level.

What elements are necessary for ensuring talent retention success?

BP: Retention starts with understanding what each employee needs to thrive in the organization. In other words, which drivers are primary, which drivers are secondary, and which drivers don't factor into the equation. While these needs differ by individual, we've found that there is a hierarchy of seven primary needs--with a collection of sub-needs--that apply to most people.

After researching and interviewing recognized industry leaders, we first created the seven needs that are essential to the customer experience in today's omni-channel, Millennials-influenced, social-mobile-global, fast-moving market. But what we soon discovered was that the seven needs are equally critical to creating great employee experiences.

The seven needs begin with #1, followed by #2 to #5, with #6 and #7 at the top of the hierarchy.
  1. You know me, you remember me.
  2. You give me choices.
  3. You make it easy for me.
  4. You value me.
  5. You trust me.
  6. You surprise me with stuff that I can't imagine.
  7. You help me be better, you help me do more.

The Hierarchy of Needs

Why do companies struggle to retain their best employees?

Companies struggle to retain their best employees for four main reasons:
  • They don't hire the right talent in the first place. Instead of learning from their best employees' needs and performances and finding more folks like them, companies follow tried and true methods that no longer work.
  • They view all employees the same. Instead of treating employees separately, companies reward high performers and low performers equally.
  • They rely too much on hard metrics. Instead of placing primary emphasis on the customer needs and sub-needs and finding remedies to enable employees to thrive, companies dedicate resources to addressing things like conversion rates and attendance--both of which really are lag indicators.
  • They spend way too much on the weakest performers. Instead of focusing and lavishing praise on high performers, companies try to increase the productivity of low performers by small percentages.

What is the future of retention?

I see a lot of hopeful signs for the field of talent retention over the next 15 years. Based partly on the acute need to hold onto talent, and partly on recognizing the high cost of hiring and training, losing the best employees has hastened attention to this issue beyond HRM ranks to the entire C-suite.

Also, there are new creative solutions--such as TalentKeepers--that match customer styles and needs with employee styles and capabilities--such as SATMAP--and loads of relevant research coming out of Gallup Organization and, of course, i4cp. And with companies sharing best practices and worst experiences, they can avoid the minefields, leverage successful processes, and watch out for each other.

Lastly, I'm hoping that the seven needs and 40 sub-needs help companies increase their ability to determine how to enable employees to thrive and, as a result, hold onto their best employees.