How To Retain Your Best Employees

How To Retain Your Best Employees

How To Retain Your Best Employees

By Mark Wager

Leadership Coaching is available via Zoom with Mark Wager 

Does this scenario sound familiar? You hire someone smart and ambitious and you invest a lot of time training and developing them and just as the moment arrives when they are at the level you want them to be they present you with the news that they are leaving. So now you are back to square one, looking to hire someone new that you  have to spend valuable time training them again as well while costing your business more money in recruitment, training and lost productivity. It’s a challenge facing many businesses, trying to retain your best employees instead of losing them to your competitors. In this week’s article I want to explore just how you can retain your best employees.

The business world has changed a lot over the past thirty years. It’s a lot more difficult to retain employees than before. I remember when leaving, school the advice given to me and people like me was that you had to find a job with a good company and aim for a job for life. Back then the average length of service was around six years and most people would have about three jobs within their lifetime, yet today it’s not uncommon to see people move jobs every six months. I have a young niece who is in her early twenties and she has had more jobs in her short career than I have had during my whole life. The world has changed and businesses have to be able to adapt to these changes.

Start Exit interviews 

To fix anything you need to know the cause of the problem. It’s not enough to blame it on the young generation or say that it’s just something that young people do today. The business world is tough and if you want the best employees then you need to fight to attract them and then fight to keep them. Every employee who resigns needs to be offered an exit interview. This is when an employee sits down and has a chat with a senior person, preferably a representative of HR who is not their immediate boss. The purpose of this is to discover the reasons why the employee is leaving . Is it because of their boss, pay or conditions and is it something that can be easily fixed. Remember if people are able to find employment elsewhere then they are more likely to do that instead of asking for more from their current employer especially if they haven’t been there long. I know some companies who actually perform the exit interview as soon as the notice has been handed in. This gives them a better chance of keeping their most valuable employees.

Build a healthy work environment.

Today people can spend more time at work than they do at home, more time with colleagues than famil. So, it’s vital that you are able to create a welcoming and healthy work environment rather than a stale workplace. In order to build a healthy workplace you need to focus on four areas. Physical, personal health resources, psychosocial and enterprise community environment. This is a huge topic but in short you need to ensure people are physically and mentally safe and that includes the levels of stress in the workplace people have to endure. It’s  no point  telling people you care for their health if the targets you are setting require people to work excessive and long hours. You know you are a good company if your employees are happy to work there but you know you are a great company when the partners of your employees are happy that they work there.

Create Career pathways.

There was a time when people used to look for a career however today more and more people are just looking for a job. When an employee starts today they tend to have a short term vision, a view of what their job will be like over the next six to eighteen months. If you want a good employee to be with you for years instead of months then you need to show them how that would work. People can’t believe in something they can’t imagine so show them. Every organisation should have a Career pathway and this means that every job is detailed with the skills and abilities required to perform that job to a high level and then the organisation offers an integrated collection of programs and services intended to develop these skills in any employee that demonstrates the necessary potential. This seems a lot of work, because it is but the benefits are huge because any employee that starts can see how their career can progress if they decide to put in the hard work. This means that the organisation is more likely to retain the ambitious hard working employees and this improves succession management.

Train your leaders 

In most circumstances when people say they are leaving their job in truth they are really leaving just because of their Boss. The relationship between an employee and their immediate supervisor/Manager is the number one factor in determining if the employee is engaged with their work. The greater the people skills are of the Manager the higher the levels of retention. I’ve worked with many companies showing their Managers how to motivate people, understand and communicate with personalities different to their own as well as effectively managing conflict. Develop these Leadership skills and your business will reap the rewards. 

Review your compensation packages 

We live in a competitive marketplace where the best employees will always be in demand. If you have someone who is doing amazing work then the chances are that they either have been or will soon be approached by one of your competitors. What you want to avoid is the scenario when a person leaves to accept a better offer elsewhere which you would have gladly matched had you proactively reviewed their remuneration. You need to constantly review the level of compensation that you are offering. Once a year is now too long a period to wait, it needs to be done at least every six months. What is the level of salary, what incentives do you offer for excellent performance, how are you making life easier for your team in terms of travel to and from work or financial assistance packages. In order to do this ask yourself these two questions. What are your competitors offering and which of your employees would you be willing to fight for. When you think of these valuable employees what would you offer them to stay and why aren’t you offering that today in order to stay one step ahead of your competition.

Sooner or later people leave their jobs. It’s inevitable, whether it’s because of a promotion or a better offer elsewhere or they are sacked or retire. Everyone leaves eventually. What you need to focus on is what you need to do in order to ensure that when people do leave it benefits your organisation and not your competitors.

Posted: Tuesday 15 February 2022

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