Retaining talent is important for any organisation and is often considered to be the largest expense on a company balance sheet. Preventing your best and brightest from looking for opportunities elsewhere is much cheaper than constantly recruiting and training new staff. But what can you do to calm the revolving door?
What are the three main reasons why employees voluntarily leave an organisation?
- They’re not rewarded well enough for their work, do not have adequate career progression or are not using their skills to their full potential.
- They have incompetent, incompatible or insensitive supervisors who mismanage them.
- They have incompatible work hours, heavy workloads or harsh company policies?
Whatever the reason may be, employers should make sure their organisation is taking steps to be as amenable as possible. Exit interviews with all leavers to help identify why people go can be really useful with many lessons revealed.
Once you have an idea about why people leave, it’s important to take action to address the key issues, wherever possible.
What are some of the other positive steps you can take to improve staff retention?
Clear objectives, from the top down
Everyone needs a framework in which to operate and it goes from the top down. Working towards common goals and providing an inclusive approach will make people will feel valued, motivated and clear on what they need to achieve.
Introduce appraisals and link them with rewards
Link an appraisal programme to your strategy and objectives, and use it to get staff feedback. This can be done by implementing regular dialog to discuss current performance, setting objectives that clearly link to business goals, highlighting their medium-term career progression opportunities and understanding their longer-term career goals. This can also be tied into a rewards programme that benefits top performers, either via salary increases and bonuses or with non financial rewards such as extra training or holiday incentives.
Understand your employee motivations
It’s really important to understand how each of your employees is motivated and what they want from their job. They might be working for different reasons such as personal fulfilment, love for what they do, to accomplish goals and grow their career or for rewards/money. If you understand the motivations of each employee, it will be easier for you to reward them according to their preferences. If you reward them appropriately, they will be less likely to leave.
Publicise high performance
Giving special recognition by congratulating employees who perform well means that others become aware of the high achievements and can be a great way to increase morale. This will motivate top performing employees and also act as an incentive for low performers to work more effectively.
Promote internal career progression
Promotion should always be carefully considered and based on performance and capability as well as career aspirations. A simple way to retain talent is to have the right person do the right role. When people really like what they are doing, changing their job responsibilities without considering their aspirations and interests will cause them to disengage.
Train supervisors to manage well
It is clear that the role of supervisors, managers and directors is vital in understanding and playing to their employees’ motivations. Some basic concepts of how to listen, ask the right questions, give feedback and provide some coaching can make a big difference. Remember also how important it is for supervisors to always treat all employees in a fair manner and that your business maintains a reputation of integrity.
Create a good working environment
Employees find it easier to work in a nice environment and you should always concentrate on keeping the workplace a pleasant place to be. It should be well lit, at an ambient temperature, offer comfortable facilities, ideally with refreshments and a relaxation zone. Employees will find it easier to work in these environments as they will feel relaxed and valued.
Keep an eye on salaries and benefits
Although salaries are commonly quoted as “not the main motivator”, you must still be competitive in order to attract and retain the best. Keep an eye on the market rates for your area/sector and also consider what benefits will appeal. Apart from insurance backed benefits such as health protection, there are also cost effective options such as employee discount schemes whereby every day purchases can be made with significant savings.
A powerful longer-term incentive can be share or share option schemes. These can be an ideal method of giving key employees a stake in the business and a share in the results of it. They link the employee to the employer on a long-term basis and offer opportunities for rewarding them in a tax-efficient manner so that, with time, much of the profit from the shares will escape the ravages of income tax otherwise payable on earnings.
In essence, talent retention needs continual focus and is not an area that you can ignore. In order to retain the right people, it’s important to recognise where you are in relation to your competitors and to continue to evolve your people experience in response to both exit interview and market feedback.
Remember that losing your best and brightest is sometimes inevitable, though, so be nice about it and keep in touch.
Ed Hussey is HR director at Menzies LLP.
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