HR directors often cite retention as one of their top priorities, and according to Personnel Today, it’s one of the most important metrics for people analytics.

It makes sense after all the investment that goes into finding the right people at the recruitment stage and developing them once they join the organisation. However, does the focus on retention create the most value for the business?

The Oxford Dictionary describes ‘retention’ as “the continued possession, use, or control of something”. This language seems more aligned to the traditional ‘control and command’ management style which is now at odds in our more agile, innovative working environments. It also seems to conflict with what Employee Experience (EX) is, and means, to people.

EX is centred around the emotional connection between people and an organisation as they interact through an employee journey. EX models will often start at recruitment and end when an employee exits with all the transactional touchpoints inbetween, focusing on how they make people feel.

Whilst the transactional activities might diminish post-employment, the emotional connection doesn’t have to. What if, rather than prioritising retention, we prioritised employee advocacy post-employment? Does changing the mindset from ‘retaining talent’ to ‘creating advocates’ offer more value and, ultimately, increase the likelihood that your employees choose to stay with the organisation?

If we consider how organisations approach Employee Experience from when they start interacting with potential employees, through to joining and growing with the organisation, it’s usually a balanced approach of making sure it’s a positive emotional connection for both the employee and the organisation.

However, when it comes to retention, the emphasis is more often on the needs of the company and not the individual. This can sometimes create more of a negative emotional response, whether the individual stays or goes. So, whilst HR might be able to demonstrate through people analytics an improvement in retention numbers, it might not necessarily translate into higher positive emotional responses from the workforce overall.

If we change our focus to employee advocacy and improving the positive emotional connection of employees whether they stay or go, what difference does this make? Many more companies are implementing initiatives such as alumni programmes, referral schemes, post-employment communications, and events so the relationship continues far beyond the employment contract.

Not only does this increase the chances that employees may return later in their career but it also increases the likelihood they will recommend the organisation and maintain a positive connection. Therefore, should measuring employee advocacy became the new top priority for people analytics in demonstrating positive value for a business?

At FDM Group, our business model lends itself to this way of thinking. We recruit large numbers of graduates, ex-forces, and returners to work to our programmes to progress in a career in technology. After working as consultants with our clients for two years, they may choose to work directly for the client, stay on with us, or further their career outside FDM.

Whilst our top priority is to create a positive Employee Experience; we understand and appreciate the value of seeing how people’s careers develop wherever that path may take them. Of course, we hope people choose to stay but more importantly, we hope they advocate FDM as a great place to work.

We view ourselves as a touchpoint in their career journey but hope that the relationship continues throughout.

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