With record numbers of job ads and border uncertainty causing skills shortages across the economy, hiring managers can ill afford to lose valued team members.
Employees are being hunted aggressively by recruiters and competitors alike, and managers need active retention strategies in place to ensure they have the skills to remain competitive in 2021.
There are several indispensable elements of a staff retention strategy that should work in concert to keep your people engaged, performing and on your books.
It’s not about the money...
When an employee is making a decision to stay or go, cash is inevitably part of the equation. Some organisations have deeper pockets than others, but if the paycheque is the only thing keeping your people working for you, you have a problem.
Of course people like money - it’s very useful stuff. But if you consider the journey of an employee who is considering leaving your company, monetary considerations only become a factor once they are already a long way down the road - when an offer is on the table, or when they have already engaged with a recruiter.
An employee who is happy where they are, and does not feel that they are acutely under-remunerated, may not even pursue a conversation about leaving to the point where a like-for-like salary comparison becomes available.
There are very few organisations that benefit from an arms race on employee remuneration. If your retention strategy starts and ends with salaries and performance bonuses, you’re likely to either lose talent, or to overpay to keep it.
It’s about meaning
Employees most likely to stay are those who derive purpose and meaning from their professional lives in your organisation. When managers realise this they can begin to shape their employees’ worlds at work to deliver on these deeper promises.
Harvard Business School research reveals that more than 80 percent of employees don’t feel recognised or rewarded. The authors of that study recommend managers broaden their view of incentives to include non-cash benefits that make staff feel recognised and appreciated.
This can be as simple as creating a culture where people’s work is appreciated out loud. It can also include flexible work policies that show respect for an employee’s time and out-of-work needs. This shows that you value the entire person - not simply the data point on the balance sheet.
Keep your people growing
One of the most basic needs that people need to feel fulfilled in their work is a sense of personal progress. Zero people have ever answered the interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” with “Exactly right here, having made no meaningful professional progress, thank you very much”.
Too often training is aligned entirely towards either company needs over employee interests, or is delivered through a bureaucratic box-ticky CPD framework that leaves your workers feeling more like they have filled out forms at the motor registry than learned a new and valuable skill.
Yet despite how suboptimal many corporate training initiatives can be, training and development remains a key need for workers today. Research from RMIT Online and Deloitte this year found that more than half of employees would prefer a “learning culture” over a “fun culture” in their work, and that a similar number would prefer dedicated and appropriate training to free lunches at their workplace.
Training, flexible work policies and recognition programs can prevent people with much needed skills leaving your workplace. Training can also cultivate hard-to-find skills in your current employees and save you having to go to market in tough and competitive conditions.
Aligning your HR and personal development processes with both your incentive structure for workers and the emerging skills needs of your organisation can provide a win for both workers and the organisation.
Delivering training that keeps your best performers engaged, inspired and moving towards their career goals will make sure you retain and reward talented employees. And mapping this training to the needs of your company will reduce pressure on talent acquisition departments to deliver skills that are in demand across the economy.
The training element of retention policies should be paired with recognition programs that create a culture where the whole person, rather than the productivity data point, is recognised for their contribution to the company.
An organisation that can deliver these will retain staff and the benefits of each part of this program will deliver compounding returns. Organisations that ignore these key factors will see their most talented people lured away. Which will yours be?