That’s the secret. Talk to anyone in the business of running HR programs and they’ll tell you it’s the most important thing you can do to retain employees: listen. In short: ask your people what they need, and listen to what they tell you.
“That’s the key point,” Accenture’s Julie Wilkes told us during our recent webinar, Bold Benefits: Accenture’s Talent Edge. “Hearing it from them is the most important thing you can do.”
Known for its supportive programs, Accenture has made news for the kind of benefits that employees flock to — things like back-up care, fitness programs, extended parental leave, and milk delivery — all created after hearing what employees needed.
Some of the other things Julie highlighted about how to retain employees through great strategies that really respond to what employees need:
Accenture is focused on helping employees to “have it all” — not just great careers but great lives. To know how to support that, the company constantly engages employees through affinity groups, focus groups, social media, and surveys. The idea is to get the workforce “pulse” and find out what they need.
“The biggest hurdle that you can face is if you think you already know the answer before you get into your focus groups,” says Julie. The key is to hear it from your employees. “Because sometimes it’s different than what we think.”
Consider Both ROI and Value
By avoiding absences, a solution like back-up care has tangible ROI. But “value” doesn’t translate only to hard numbers. Often, doing the right thing – Accenture’s milk delivery program for nursing mothers, for example — has enormous rewards in reducing stress and delivering on the company’s value statement.
Bundle Your Services
Accenture has thousands of employees working in many different types of arrangements. That kind of diversity requires more than a single solution. To provide the most efficient approach, the company bundles all of its working-parent solutions into a single suite and lets employees pick and choose.
Make Things Easy to Find
Solutions aren’t the only strategies that require employee input: you also want to leverage focus groups to help you figure out how to share information. “If your employees have to go hunt and peck for information, or go on 30 pages before they can locate something,” says Julie, “that’s a miss,”
All of the best programs on earth will fall flat if your leadership isn’t behind them. The key is to keep leaders apprised of the workforce’s challenges, what’s in the marketplace, and what kinds of programs other top employers are offering to tempt your people away.
Finally, Julie stresses her original point: listen to your people. The message employers want to send is that they care about people and want them for the long haul, says Julie. “To do that,” she says, “you must know your workforce, you must know what they need, and meet them where they are with those programs.”