How do we consumerize employee experience?

Ideas, The Future of People Initiatives
December 12, 2022
4 min

Key Takeaways

  • Leaders in talent and learning need to lean into their strengths. For Spirit, this means onboarding.  
  • Recruiting can gain from marketing techniques like personas. This helps recruiters target the people that are likely to fit well and stay more effectively. 
  • There are 5 generations working at Spirit. Mitigating generational conflicts is important in this landscape.
  • Action does not equal outcomes. An important lesson leaders have learned from COVID is to learn to spot outcomes rather than tracking action. 

Introducing David Klein

David is the Head of Talent at Spirit Airlines where he is championing the “consumerization of the employee experience.” This means he is using techniques traditionally utilized in marketing – such as personas – to strengthen the people side of the business.


Business is people 

People are business initiatives. We run our businesses through people.”

Business leaders know they need people. But that’s not the hard part. Instead what’s difficult is making sure we know how to navigate through people to get success. The real challenge is knowing how to manage and lead those individuals in a way that helps the business succeed. It’s this challenge that David focuses on solving at Spirit. 

Onboarding is a superpower 

“What’s your superpower? Where are you going? That’s where you lean in”

David notes Spirit’s strength in onboarding and listening – listening to their team members, prospective team members, and people that have left. As he says, the goal is to capture hearts and minds. In the age of choice, that’s essential.

Onboarding has a murky boundary as David readily points out, however, he personally defines it as the period of time between the application and the end of the first year. For Spirit, inspiring talent during this timeframe is crucial. By making a positive impression and providing the necessary resources and support, businesses can help new employees feel welcomed and valued. 

Marketing techniques for recruiting

“If they don’t feel a connection to the company there’s not a stickiness – they won’t have that initial desire.”


David helped develop and establish personas for Spirit’s recruiting efforts. The team at Spirit has come to understand the type of people who come to work there. Honing our marketing effort from there. This has led them to reconsider many factors including compensation programs.

Generation gaps

“We’re trying to help leaders lead and to give them the tools to understand people.”

There are currently 5 generations currently working at Spirit. David notes the cycle of generational conflict – the oldest always looks to the youngest as the source of problems. Recently it was millennials, but they’re now well integrated – now it’s Gen Z that everyone finds locates problems with. 

Given this, David notes it’s vital that we teach leaders to understand those they lead. But how do we do that?

Collecting data without overstepping

“How do you collect data without being big brother? There’s going to be a balance.”

We need to make sure we’re hearing people’s needs. We have to know our people like we know our business if we’re going to succeed. But to know your people you have to collect data – how do we do that without being big brother?


Collecting data about your employees can be a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your employees. On the other hand, collecting data can raise concerns about privacy and the potential for abuse. Ultimately, it’s a question leaders have to answer for themselves. 

For Spirit, they are collecting data on the lifecycle of employees – to determine who leaves and who stay. Further, they administer pulse surveys on sentiment 4 times a year and measure moments that matter. From there it’s a matter of analytics. 

Activity is not outcome

“Manage to outcomes not activity.”

David notes that a vital lesson the COVID pandemic taught us is that seeing activity isn’t everything.  Although activities produce outcomes and should not be ignored, managers must learn to place a heavier emphasis on outcomes. 

By placing a heavier emphasis on outcomes, managers can ensure that their teams are working towards the most important goals, and that their efforts are not being wasted on activities that do not contribute to achieving those goals.

Adam Fridman
Serial entrepreneur, author, and speaker, Adam is a co-founder and one of the visionaries behind ProHabits. Currently, he hosts ProHabits' podcast: The Future of People Initiatives.

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