In professional services — in every way that matters — your people are your product and your brand. Knowledge workers put all the power of human ingenuity to work and can be astonishingly innovative, agile, and flexible! But humans also have a wildly different set of needs than industrial or technology infrastructure — and that creates some very real and unique challenges.
Churn across this industry is incredibly high — the highest of all industries in 2021-22, according to a LinkedIn study. In small amounts, churn is refreshing. In large amounts, it is catastrophic — draining your reserves of experience, customer connection, and knowledge. Worse, it can have a cascading effect. If there aren’t enough human relationships across your firm, the departure of just one employee poses a massive risk.
Why is churn so high in this industry? Here are a few reasons:
People are more disconnected from each other.
Even before the pandemic, professional services were incorporating more flexible remote and hybrid work models. However, physical separation can create a profound sense of isolation. Lower levels of agility, psychological safety, collaboration, and personal support mean less risk-taking, less helping, stifled innovation, and lower productivity.
People are more disconnected from (the right) information.
Professional services are highly flexible, skill-driven environments, where employees often move teams and report to multiple project leaders. But fluidity and flat hierarchy come at the cost of fewer guardrails and unclear prioritization or information sharing. This can cause frustration, sluggish ramps to productivity, and fewer billable hours. Technology is often used to fill the gap, but the wild proliferation of digital tools in this sector can create overload, burnout, and option paralysis. Workers just aren't sure where to focus.
People are disconnected from their firms.
Managers are the single most important factor in employee experience. This also makes them a huge risk — not all managers are equal. There is also the problem of the gaps and transitions between managers — such as during pre-boarding, internal moves, returning from leave, etc. — where people can feel cut adrift. In fact, this industry experiences higher than average renege and new hire churn rates.
It’s no wonder then, that professional services firms are hyper-focused on their human capital. They want to be better at finding, keeping, and growing talent. The answer is through human connection.
Ten ways human connections help professional services attract and keep talent
Human connection can be accomplished via a steady stream of micro-interactions, nudges, and proactive relationship-building across your employee population. (All capabilities you can find in the Enboarder Human Connection platform.)
Here are ten ways professional services firms are using human connection to better attract, retain, and develop their talent.
1. Reducing time to hire by making hiring more memorable, engaging, and consistent
Hiring in professional services can take forever — with many stakeholders, delays, and inconsistencies depending on the hiring manager or group. Make the process easier by connecting humans to information in more proactive, personal ways. Human connection journeys can increase candidate engagement, prompt managers with guidance, and create a faster, more consistent, and more memorable hiring experience for all.
2. Jump-starting belonging early to increase offer acceptance and reduce dropouts
Once the offer is out there, firms can create journeys for incoming candidates, interns, and new hires to help them envision their future with you. They will form ties as they consider your offer and stay engaged while awaiting their first day — thereby dramatically reducing new hire renege and dropout rates.
3. Using early outreach and onboarding to embed people in your culture
Firms can increase 90-day retention rates by proactively connecting new hires not only with onboarding forms — but also buddies, mentors, and counselors. Gather and share personal stories and create meaningful moments that quickly bring them within your community. Onboarding journeys also help to set expectations and socialize incoming employees to your firm’s culture and values.
4. Facilitating friendships that create embeddedness in the firm
Automated workflows can link people to their co-workers on a human level — encouraging them to form important friendships and affinity. Use tools (like Enboarder’s People Cards) to connect people and get them talking and sharing. This can connect people not only to their team but across the whole firm — ramping up collaboration and easing transitions.
5. Creating “wow” moments that amplify belonging (and your employer brand)
Reach out to make people feel seen, and to personalize experience at every stage of their career. Not only onboarding, but also rewards and recognition, and everyday interactions are made more robust and meaningful because you’ve taken the time to get to know your workers and connect them to each other on a human level. You’ll build a more vibrant and viral employer brand — and turn candidates and employees into brand advocates.
6. Making internal transitions more seamless through proactive relationship building
Professional services firms are constantly bringing new cohorts into their organizations — whether interns, new grad hires, SMEs to support new services, or via M&A. They are also highly fluid, forming new workgroups around projects, consultancies, or clients. Connecting people across groups helps firms reduce silos, increase collaboration, and facilitate smoother internal moves — speeding time to productivity for new groups and projects.
7. Connecting people to the information they need without overwhelming them
Tech like Enboarder’s Human Connection Platform can help you connect people to co-workers who can show them the ropes. Nudge employees in the flow of work — helping them prioritize, navigate through your tech tools, and take key actions that will increase feelings of accomplishment and make them more productive.
8. Increasing time to productivity and technology uptake through proactive nudges
Professional services are always in need of more and clearer methods for information sharing. Human connections better enable employees by providing them with the information and connections they need to quickly ramp up and reduce time spent on non-billable tasks.
9. Staying in touch and reboarding alumni or employees returning from leave
Automated workflows can help to reboard and re-connect employees who have taken leave or sabbatical, encouraging and smoothing their re-entry to the company — especially if they are returning to a new group. Because professional services tend to be very tight-knit communities, many firms use Enboarder journeys to keep in touch with company alumni, better facilitating the re-hire of high-value boomerang employees.
10. Use micro-nudges to support your culture of growth and learning
Knowledge workers must stay up to date on their skills to stay sharp and productive. Professional services can use personalized journeys to boost short-term capabilities across the firm, providing longer-term support and acceleration for careers — and mentoring the development and training of needed future skills. Ultimately this can help support careers, show people their path for development, and drive loyalty and retention in the firm.
Curious about how this works in practice in professional services? Check out this webinar where PwC and Deloitte take a closer look at crafting employee experience: “Early Career Engagement: How to Raise the Bar to Deliver World-Class Career Experiences.”