Who are your company’s most valuable hires? They may not be exactly who you think.
Specialties like software developers may grab all the headlines, but there’s another subset of employee quietly competing for the title.
These would be your functional employees: the claims processors, the payroll people, the IT support, customer service employees, administrative assistants, finance, sales, marketing….the unheralded people who keep your company moving. The good ones have critical skills, vast company knowledge bases, and key jobs.
And they’re also some of the most likely to be poached.
Most valuable hires; most transferrable skills
Why? Employees in these roles provide vital services, says Horizons Workforce Consulting’s Lucy English. How vital? “Ever tried to do business with a difficult customer service agent?” she asks. Exactly. Further cementing their value is the fact that it can take ten positive customer interactions to make up for a single lousy one. “So you want to keep the good ones at all costs,” says Lucy.
Trouble is, she adds, those skills are easily transferable from your company to the competitor across the street. So those ace customer-service skills or super-human IT smarts are constantly at risk. “These people can take their great work ethic and their great performances,” says Lucy, “and go do the same job someplace else whenever they feel like it.”
At-risk employees: a familiar HR problem
And apparently, they often do. Lucy regularly presents around the country about Dream Companies – places that have cracked the code on what engages people — and says she gets the most nods of recognition from HR people when she gets to the part about these transferrable skills and the constant rotation of the people who have them. “They recognise the revolving door,” she says.
That the above titles don’t exactly connote a list of dream jobs is kind of the point, she says, further proving the value of the Dream Company. What Lucy’s Dream research unearthed is that where people work edges out job in order of importance. In other words, dream jobs are all well and good; but Dream Companies (places that support the trifecta of employee priorities: well-being, work/life balance, and career development) are better, multiplying things like retention rates considerably.
That matters a lot for any valuable employee you want to hang on to. But it’s especially valuable for employees with those highly transferable skills. For a star customer service agent who can work successfully anywhere, where they work isn’t a thing – it’s everything. And dream companies deliver.
All that said, being in both a dream job and a dream company, says Lucy, would probably be best of all. But if you have to choose one or the other, she knows where she’d put her money.
“If you want to bottle engagement, and you can’t give employees a job that they dream of,” she says, “your best bet is to give them a company that they do.”
Back to top