Employee retention and engagement can be a pain point for many companies, especially at the start of a new year. January is always an extremely busy time for recruitment as workers look to make a change in both their professional and personal lives as well as fulfil their New Year’s resolutions.
For employers, losing talent is a costly business and in a candidate-driven market, leaders need to do everything they can to keep their people happy and engaged. Retaining staff requires more than simply increasing salaries or adding more employee benefits to the list– it relies on a good understanding of individuals in the business, their needs and their motivations.
Start at the beginning
Before starting, it’s important to understand how well the current retention strategy is working. Does the business have a good idea of employee concerns and general satisfaction levels? If not, an employee engagement survey is a useful tool and enabler for those looking to provide an anonymous channel for employees to share their thoughts, as this can provide a strong foundation to build on for more individual engagement.
It’s also important to ensure that the right managers are in place. Middle managers, in particular, are the key to keeping employees motivated; according to a global study by TINYpulse, 40 per cent of staff who don’t rate their supervisor’s performance highly have interviewed for a job within the next three months.
Employers therefore need to ensure that these people are trained to do the very best job they can. Managers are usually the first point of call for any staff concerns and play a key role in maintaining the performance and wellbeing of the overall team. As such, investing in managers and their development will enable them to gain a better understanding of their team and help them to identify any concerns before they become a problem.
It goes back to making sure that the business is fostering a culture of trust. Managers need to make sure they have an open and honest relationship with their team in order to create a positive atmosphere. Employees that don’t have trust in their manager will become less productive, disengaged and ultimately detached.
Once business leaders understand the current state of play, it’s time to see what else they can do to retain their people. Developing a clear career path for employees and offering ways to upskill is an important part of the retention process. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report found that 93% of employees would consider staying in their current company and role longer if they had more opportunities to invest in their careers. Development is no longer an optional benefit reserved for leadership positions; it’s now expected by the majority of workers.
If development and training is combined with other initiatives, such as employee incentives, the right learning programme can boost engagement and improve team performance across the whole business.
Implementing regular rewards for hitting targets with longer-term opportunities such as service awards will keep people committed to the business and consistently aiming to perform their best. Monthly achievements such as the best project completed should also be considered as a way to encourage staff to work as a team rather than as individuals alone. However, whatever rewards the company offers, it needs to make sure they match the culture of the overall business.
Evaluate the company’s culture.
Making sure that everyone treats each other with respect, kindness and supportive behaviours should be the foundation of any positive working culture. If staff feel able to be themselves without fear of prejudice, then this will only add to a healthy work environment.
Even if an employee does decide to leave, business leaders should maintain this supportive and positive attitude. Showing the wider staff pool that the company learns from every resignation and develops its offering for future candidates will promote a healthy working culture and increase retention in the long run.
When people are engaged, they feel connected to each other as well as the organisation they work for. This will have a ripple effect on productivity by creating an engaged workforce that’s more motivated to succeed. Ultimately, staff retention comes down to several factors; job satisfaction, development opportunities, good relationships with managers, alignment with the business’s culture and values. It’s a lot to think about and to deliver against but these are responsibilities that HR should be championing with the support of their business leaders.
Interested in managing talent? We recommend this Talent Management and Leadership Development Summit 2019.
Aliya started her HR career in 1996 and co-founded JourneyHR in 2010. Aliya has predominantly worked in the communications industry reporting in at board level at Aegis Media, Naked Communications, Media Planning Group and lastminute.com. She applies commercial focus and business psychology to HR and continues to influence business owners in the marketing and communications industry on innovative people practices.