Should we focus less on customer retention, and more on employee retention?

As marketers, we’re all focused on two things: Bringing in new customers, and keeping the ones we’ve got.

But should marketing teams take responsibility for employee retention as well as customer retention? 

“That’s what HR is for”, I hear you protest. Or “that’s the CEO’s responsibility”. Or perhaps: “That’s not something I have any control over”.

But the marketing department has a surprising amount of power when it comes to employee retention. If you can make complete strangers care about your company, imagine what you can achieve with people who already work there!

Here are some suggestions for creating a bond between company and staff that boosts employee retention without draining your budget.

Internal communications

For many companies, internal comms are an expense which is seen as avoidable. But for staff to feel invested in a company, they need to be kept in the loop. They need to be engaged, and even consulted.

We’re always wondering how customers perceive us, but never give much thought to how employees perceive the company. It’s a good idea to survey the staff intermittently, so that they feel their voice is being heard.

If some company news is about to break, make sure that the employees have been briefed before the press release goes out. And when launching some new creative, present it to the employees before it hits the web. Nothing undermines a person’s sense of importance like having to learn something about their own company third hand.

You don’t need to consult everyone on every little detail – nothing would ever get done if everyone did that – but it’s amazing what a psychological boost people get from feeling included and considered.

Distribute marketing collateral across the company

Make sure everyone has the marketing material that they might need, not just the marketing and sales teams. The collateral will help remind staff of the brand message, and will also give them a sense of responsibility towards promoting the business.

Event planning

Creating a social bond with your colleagues is crucial to a friendly and supportive office environment. When you’re planning an event for customers or clients, make sure to add on some post-event drinks just for the staff. They’ll feel rewarded for their hard work and valued by the company. It’ll be great for morale.

Recognise individual successes

Staff like to feel that their hard work is recognised and valued by the company, even if they’re not responsible for bringing in big-money deals. So why not start a regular internal email acknowledging the successes of staff, and perhaps rewarding them with an early finish one day, or an exemption from tea-making duties for a week?

Let employees be brand advocates

Letting an employee Tweet or blog about/for the company requires you to place a lot of trust in that person. If your company has a very corporate brand image, then perhaps it wouldn’t be appropriate.

But brands are increasingly becoming more humanised, so letting employees loose on social media could benefit both the public image of the company, and the engagement levels of the employees. When someone feels trusted by their company, they feel more connected to it.

Quite simply, people feel more protective of a brand, and more engaged with it, when they feel that they contribute to its public image. So if you want to keep hold of that talented Account Manager or your best Sales person then you’d better start looking towards employee retention.

Abigail Chandler is the Marketing Manager at Devonshire, a recruitment firm specialising in Marketing and Creative roles.