The world over, people (and not just millennials) are shifting their behaviour to acquiring experiences, rather than acquiring things. Brands that deliver experiences or offer access to experiences are growing fast. Think Rent the Runway, Uber or Netjets or, closer to home, GoCar, Dublin Bikes or Cari’s Closet.
In much the same way, owning DVD’s, CD’s and even books has already started to seem quaint. We consume the experience and move on to the next one.
Why is this? Perhaps because, post-crash, experiences are seen as more lasting than material possessions, which go out of fashion, become obsolete or fail. Or perhaps because technology has made us so much more aware of the breadth of experience to be enjoyed in the world.
As an agency that collaborates with both consumer brands and employer brands, the parallels are striking. The ‘job for life’ has become the equivalent of ownership – not for everyone. If experiences are what’s important these days, how much does the flow and quality of experiences affect retention and attraction of talent by employers?
While culture is often held up as a key determinant of loyalty, it can be notoriously tricky to define and express without resorting to corporate speak. Where company culture can come across as derivative, bland and forgettable; experiences are personal, vivid, memorable and shareable.
Of course, culture and experiences are clearly intertwined. One of our employer branding clients, Salesforce, has gone to astonishing lengths to make amazing experiences a cornerstone of its culture. From regular volunteering to corporate events that are more like rock concerts, working at Salesforce promises both quantity and quality of experience.
But for every Salesforce, there are a hundred employers that talk about culture but forget about experiences. And that’s a problem when it comes to retention.
Naturally, when a new hire starts, experiences come thick and fast: new colleagues, customers and challenges keep things interesting and exciting. But after six months or so, these novelties become the norm. Boredom and monotony develops. The hunger for new experiences kicks in. The net result is that employee tenure suffers – for some of the world’s leading tech and financial services brands, it’s currently hovering around 1 year.
So how can employers ensure that their ‘experience stream’ is strong and motivating? Here are three ways that any company, regardless of size, sector or resources, can implement.