In an age of dynamic business environment, it is crucial for organisations to implement unique loyalty programmes to increasingly engage with and retain employees, clients and various stakeholders associated with their businesses.

In a panel discussion at the seventh edition of News Corp VCCircle’s India Loyalty Conclave, experts discussed themes and strategies to engage and build a performance-driven workforce.

The panellists viewed the importance for organisations and businesses to go beyond the traditional compensation model to reward either their employees or clients they work with.

Prashant Srivastava, group human resources president at the diversified Reliance Group, highlighted that most employment engagement models came in the late 1990s and that nothing had drastically changed in the last 20 years.

“It is important that we go beyond compensation. For instance, organisations can help employees with their financial goals or fitness goals by conducting sporting events. This will help bring in creativity and innovation, improving efficiency and play a role in achieving their professional goals,” Srivastava said.

According to a Deloitte research report, organisations with the most sophisticated or well-designed recognition practices for employees and business are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes.

Sachin Kamat, director employee and customer engagement, Enrich Hair & Skin Solutions, said that there is a greater need for organisations to personally know their employees’ professional need or why they are working for the organisation.

“As the salon business gets more and more corporatized, you will see that more than three-fourth of revenue is repeat business. Therefore, it is important that employees come first because a happy employee is a testimony of a satisfied client. There is no other viable option. It does not mean the customer is neglected,” Kamat said.

Waqar Azmi, founder and chief executive officer at recruitment firm Sutra HR, said that new-age employees do not care what companies do for them, but it is more about how companies make them feel in the workplace.

The panellists also observed that with evolving technology and demographics, organisations need to work harder and quicker at delivering loyalty or recognition programmes.

“The workforce is getting younger by the day and an increasing number of employees are making choices such as where they like to holiday or dine or products and services they use. These changes are influencing a change in the way they look at loyalty programmes. It is important to bring in creativity and innovation to help employees be in sync with organisations’ goals and build performance,” said Unmesh Pawar, managing director of HR at technology and management consulting firm Accenture.

Pawar cited an example where his firm offered shares under the employee share purchase plan. An Accenture employee could buy its company’s shares at a discounted rate, which instantaneously gave a high return on investment. He cited another example where Accenture had been offering flexibility in salary structures, albeit within the tax and statutory framework.

“Companies need to create meaningful experiences for their core group of employees and look for ways they can anchor organisation performance with loyalty,” Pawar said.

Client retention

A special address following the panel discussion highlighted certain key areas for businesses to retain clients.

Shalabh Saxena, chief operating officer at Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Company, said that it is important for a company to map its customers’ cycle starting from client acquisition to marketing for them.

“Companies need to invest in technology because that will take a long distance rather than operating in a brick-and-mortar fashion. Client loyalty programmes are journey and organisations have to have it in their culture because customer acquisition will not guarantee business,” Saxena said, while explaining a seven-point checklist in his presentation to retain clients.

“It is better to have a loyalty programme that will recognise clients rather than having a leaking bucket of acquiring customers and losing them, and repeating the exercise. It is not a fruitful exercise,” Saxena added.

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