Client and employee retention are both vital to business longevity and are completely tied together. To retain clients, we must consistently deliver the ultimate client experience; but to achieve that end, planning firms must first be delivering the ultimate team experience. Employers who demonstrate a remarkable team experience tend to retain more engaged, loyal and productive associates who deliver phenomenal service to clients. Let’s review the key ingredients of the Team Experience.
1) Communication. Every financial planning practice should have a formalized team communication plan. This plan should include in-person team meetings (both tactical and strategic); and electronic communication, such as standards for how you use email, your CRM and team calendar. Team members need to have a voice in the practice and that they can approach any co-worker with ideas and feedback. When internal communication falters, errors increase, as does employee stress and dissatisfaction. Both the people and the business experience a negative impact. Fundamentally team members need to:
- Proactively receive information in the business and feel in-the-loop
- Freely deliver communication and know their voice is heard
2) Appreciation. Relationships, whether personal or professional, are a two-way street; gratitude needs to be prevalent for both parties to feel they are valued. Appreciation goes well beyond paychecks. Many studies have shown that workers are more likely to stay with a company if they feel a sense of purpose and are recognize for their contributions.
Similar to client appreciation, we recommend customizing your associate rewards and recognition. For instance, giving a gift certificate is nice but giving one to their favorite restaurant or store is much more appreciated. Getting to know your team members personally will be critical to customization. Understanding public or private acknowledgement preferences are vital to making an impact.
3) Environment. The surroundings you provide are essential to your employees’ experience. Designated parking spaces, decorating a cubicle/office, breakroom amenities, themed lunches, incorporating family members in events and simply celebrating life successes can all affect the team morale. Likewise, the culture of your practice can positively or negatively impact the environment. Hostility is often bred when problems aren’t appropriately addressed or good times recognized. When walking around your office, consider what you see and hear—do you sense tension and resentment or comradery and respect? A professional but fun and flexible work environment where growth, learning and productivity can be all in balance and will lead to employee retention.
Why not begin by evaluating the entirety of your current team experience. What are you offering your employees now in communication, appreciation and environment? How would you AND your associates score each element? With that information, begin to brainstorm ideas to further enhance your firm’s team experience. Remember, delivering client service with a smile can’t be faked. Commit to your team and the returns will be immense to you and your clients.
Sarah E. Dale and Krista S. Sheets are partners at Performance Insights (performanceinsights.com), where they focus on helping financial professionals increase results through wiser practice management and people decisions.