Staff retention is an important issue for all businesses; it’s hard enough to find good people, without losing them sooner than you want to. Undesirable turnover has many detrimental consequences not least of which is lost productivity and money. Contemplate for a moment the amount of money you invest hiring and training staff. Not all of these costs are as visible as recruitment and training fees – in many cases the big cost is in the time managers and colleagues spend getting the new hire up to speed. Then there’s the time and money spent growing capabilities over time that simply walk out the door when someone resigns. High turnover can negatively impact the perceptions that other staff have of your business and can result in those left behind having to carry a greater load while you search for a replacement.
To keep great people it is critical that you understand the drivers of loyalty and turnover. While the things that directly impact are many and varied some of the fundamentals I encourage you to focus on are your recruiting practices, approach to inducting new employees, the environment you create and your efforts to reward and recognise the contributions people make.
Recruitment – get it right from the start
A well planned and structured recruitment process can help you to select the best candidate for the job; including the person most likely to stay with your organisation over the longer term. Make sure you understand what you are looking for and prepare a position description and interview guide that reflect your key selection criteria. Ensure you assess and select candidates with consideration given to:
- The candidate’s motivation and ability to perform the key tasks, assume critical responsibilities and achieve the performance expectations of the role; including an assessment of skills, knowledge, education, experience and likely competence in the role
- Alignment of their values with those of your organisation
How new employees are inducted will impact their perceptions of your organisation, how well they adjust to the demands of their new role and whether or not they feel a part of your team. These are all important factors in determining whether or not they are likely to stay within the first twelve months to two years of employment. Make sure all employees understand:
- The key responsibilities and performance expectations of their role
- How their role fits into the bigger picture
- The organisation’s core values and how they are expected to behave
- Your organisation’s longer terms plans and objectives
- How they can work with you to grow professionally over time
Create a positive work environment through skilled managers
Management effectiveness in creating a positive work environment and leveraging the talents of their team is a powerful driver of staff retention. The ability to build and manage team environments that operate on the basis of respect, collaboration and trust is a critical management capability that all businesses need.
- Develop people management skills in your organisation
- Measure and reward performance on what is achieved as well as how it is achieved
Provide rewarding careers
Taking a planned approach to managing career development and progression through your organisation can be an effective way of avoiding staff going elsewhere in order to take their next career step.
- Understand each team member’s career aspirations
- Support and encourage ongoing professional development that leads to achievement of short and long term career goals
- Look internally before hiring from the outside. Give your team members the opportunity to grow into more senior roles over time. Developing and promoting talented staff from within your organisation are significant contributors to staff retention
Pay is important but it isn’t everything
In order to retain key staff it is important to ensure salary packages are competitive. However this does not mean it is always necessary to pay at the top end of the market or to offer bonuses or other financial incentives. In many cases staff are satisfied knowing that they are being fairly compensated so long as they like what they are doing, feel as though they are progressing and enjoy the work environment.