One of the biggest issues that companies are facing is the ability to attract and retain top performers. Labor statistics show the highest number of people leaving jobs voluntarily since the 2000-2001 tech boom. Employee turnover currently costs U.S. companies$160 billion per year. Replacing an employee can set your company back as much as two times his or her annual salary or more if the person is a high performer. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that, on average, 36 percent of new hires and 40 percent of senior managers hired externally fail within the first 18 months.

These statistics mean that the focus on client acquisition needs to be turned on its head and that the HR “customer” – the employee – needs more attention. Employees increasingly expect the kind of customer-centric experience they encounter in their daily lives as consumers of products and services, an experience that is personalized based on their interests and needs.

Leaders need to put more emphasis on their people (their other customers) – from developing a strong employer brand and hiring employees to overseeing the employee lifecycle and alumni management. Potential HR customers are not limited to employees. They also include applicants, contingent workers, alumni, board members and even the young people who comprise the future workforce. To become attractive and keep employees interested and challenged, it is vital to understand the journey they take from before they engage with a company until after they move on. This understanding enables the creation of an experience that supports, excites and inspires employees.

Develop human focused process around the employee journey and their moments that matter the most:

  1. Map the journey: The journey starts before people actually engage with your company and ends well after they leave. By understanding how all interactions occur, you are able to understand bottlenecks and areas for improvement and have a visual representation to improve on.
  2. Identify types of employees and their most important moments: Create employee avatars like the personas that marketing professionals create. A one-size-fits all approach to engaging employees does not work, because what is important to one may not be to another. Using these avatars allows you to identify the important moments in employees’ journey and give them a personalized experience.
  3. A little design goes a long way: Take the time to prototype and test ways to add to the moment to delight and engage each type of employee. Elicit feedback from test groups, and identify the moments that have had the biggest impact on their experience.
  4. Build the experience and launch it: It is important to know that your employee experience will not be perfect when you launch it. Make the employees part of the evolution of the experience. Showing that you care and that you are taking their feedback into consideration will have almost as significant an effect as the experience itself.

The employee experience can no longer be something that executives know is a problem but don’t prioritize. It has to be a primary focus and true differentiator. When employees and alumni can speak highly of your organization as one that provided a great experience, you will see benefits that far exceed any costs associated with creating it.