From “customer centric” to “employee centric

During our consulting missions Steering or Executive Committees, we hear more and more often the notion of « employee centric », where until now the emphasis was mainly on being « customer centric ». So what does this evolution reflect? Should we oppose these two notions? Can the experience of the historical subject accelerate the more recent one? Zoom on a shift in focus, which leads to profound transformation issues for the organization.

HR Strategy

Shake hands between employer and employee

Senior HR Transformation Consultant

Customer centric: a priority that has become mature

The notion of « customer centricity », which appeared in the 90s, took off a few years later with the objective of putting the customer at the center of all the organization’s thoughts and decisions.

We study his profile, we try to know him, to understand him, to understand his interests, what he feels, his « customer experience ». We can go as far as putting an empty chair in meetings to symbolize the presence of the client. What would he say if he attended this meeting? We imagine his journey in its different phases, from the beginning of the experience, and not only at the moment of the purchase. We move away our attention from the simple purchase act to the establishment of a real relationship and a qualitative customer experience.

This approach has generated many benefits for all those who have experienced it and, in fact, is not questioned at all. But in organizations, there is a theme that is “taking over” from « customer centric », namely « employee centric ». It is not a matter of neglecting the customer, but of putting the employee “first” in terms of attention.

Developing Human Resources focused on employees means putting in place processes to attract the right candidates, support their professional development and retain them.

This is well illustrated by the title of the book « Employees first, customers second » by Vineet Nayar, CEO of an Indian multinational, the HCL IT group. Released in 2010, this bestseller marked the beginning of a new awareness for many actors interested in Human Resources, and more broadly in the transformation of their company.
The author describes his iconoclastic approach to turning the company around. His strategy: put employees first. He recommends putting employees at the center, focusing on what they experience, how they feel, trying to make their “experience” as positive as possible

Shift of focus: from customer to employee?

Organizations are therefore facing a world in transformation, increasingly complex and uncertain, in which reactivity and continuous innovation are necessary. However, faced with these new challenges, having sharpened or optimized processes is not enough. What makes the difference, what creates added value, is thecommitment of the employees. And this commitment leads to performance.

Since then, many studies have correlated the rate of engagement with the increase or decrease in performance and turnover, absenteeism, such as the Gallup report in 2022 entitled « State of the Global Workplace » and estimates the cost of disgruntled or disengaged employees on the global economy at $7.8 trillion.

Taking care of employees is all the more important for Human Resources Departments as they are faced with the problem of developing their employer brand and attractiveness. The development of Human Resources must therefore be done around the employee who will take his place and make his contribution in line with the relationship he expects to have with his employer.

The message « employee commitment makes the difference » will therefore gradually be translated into various HR actions : QWL, training in more caring management, communication, and even happiness at work… All HR processes are therefore impacted.

So how can we think « employee centric » ?

Thinking « employee centric » means taking a similar approach to the « customer centric » approach. It is therefore a question of understanding the subject in terms of employee experience and employee journey. It is important to consider, at each stage, the impressions and pain points of the employee: before entering the company, with the image that he/she has of it (employer brand), at the time of recruitment, from onboarding, through job changes, day-to-day relations with HR, training…

Then his daily experience; the interest of his work, the trust and autonomy he is granted, the relationship with his management, the feeling of belonging, the harmony and dynamics of the group, his work environment, the possibility of reconciling his personal and professional life… And finally the way he is retained, and even the way he will leave the company one day (offboarding), whatever the reason. He will be able to continue to spread a positive image of the company and recommend it to others.


In order to think « employee centric », we must therefore consider each step individually (taking into account of course also its digital experience, to reach the DEX D’Excellence, or Digital Employee Experience of Excellence).

We can also add a global reflection for more coherence: think the global strategy of the company, the main guidelines so that this employee experience is completely in line with the new strategic orientations, the purpose and the values of the organization.

The « employee centric » approach does not replace the « customer centric » approach, but rather shifts the organization’s focus and priority. And above all, the former can benefit from the extensive feedback from the latter, thus promoting acceleration.

Human resources are increasingly integrating this strategic mission. They become essential partners in the development of employee commitment and the guarantee of an « employee centric » policy, a policy that is regularly measured by internal barometers, such as those we implement for many clients.

Today, the challenge for companies is to find a balance between the digital transition of human resources, support for change and employee experience.

If this topic echoes your current needs, SQORUS HR consultants are available for you!

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