Charlotte Corner: The four key factors behind staff retention

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At the forefront of any company is the critical and delicate process of staff retention and motivation. Unfortunately, Monster revealed that over half (54%) of employees feel under-appreciated and, as a result, two in five feel demotivated.

So what mistakes are we making, and which simple steps can be taken to ensure staff feel valued?

Where are we going wrong?

In supporting employee development, companies often fail to look at overall performance. Commonly, companies will analyse the individual performance of staff, instead of assessing how they work and achieve as part of a group.

Collective productivity is the key to business development. By shifting the area focus, staff will in turn feel more motivated, willing to contribute as well as bought into the company. Factoring in the sense of personal development to the staff is also a necessity in order to drive their wellbeing in the workplace, necessary and relevant training programmes will positively impact both the business and employee.

Customer experience professional, Ian Golding, highlights ‘Adult to Adult’ management as the key driver for motivating and retaining employees:

“If you treat your people like adults, they will behave like adults, if you treat them like children, they will behave like children. It should not be difficult, but acknowledging, appreciating empowering and respecting your own people will lead to them repaying you handsomely.”

Ian points out that by not treating staff well, they are then likely to do the same to the customers of the business, ultimately building a negative cycle.

Use horizontal management

Noted to have one of the best organisational structures for staff morale in the workplace, horizontal management typically involves less red tape. Daily organisation is led by high-level managers who also interact with customers and employees on a day-to-day basis. By minimising hierarchy, both communication and services are improved, and issues can be tackled on-the-spot.

Having a framework in place which simplifies dialogue and processes makes it easier to have self-managed teams, where decision-making is quicker, shared and involvement equal. Decentralising decisions and actions embraces stronger employee contribution as they become more responsible in steering business success.

Elena Martinez, founder of EMC Traducciones, says: “A flat company structure helps to speed up communication and also enables staff with a sense of value and more freedom to communicate with management, also creating a healthier and more sociable office environment.”

Offer internal progression

By taking an interest in developing your staff and allowing them to progress and grow in a company is one of the simplest methods to reduce the turnover rate. The 21st century employee is constantly seeking opportunities to get better at what they do, advance within a company or at least add to their skillset.

For companies not currently offering such incentives, it may be time to review the organisation of departments and see how different roles and responsibilities can be created, or even looking to adapt roles which will allow employees to specialise within a certain career path.

A career path is represented by the ability to move towards a number of specialised positions that provide several benefits to the employee, whether they are professional titles, new responsibilities, additional authority or higher salaries.

Promote participation

Many companies are emerging from a phase of complex internal reorganisation, involving resource optimisation and cost cutting as a direct result of the recent economic environment. Managers are relied on directly to be involved in this process, to back the organisational transformation, and with the help of new policies and reporting systems to monitor performance; managers have more time to focus on empowering staff and developing the business.

If and when a company decides to adapt or re-shape its structure or operations, it’s noteworthy to mention how staff input can impact the company as a whole. Staff happiness and wellbeing will be on the rise and by airing their own opinions; valuable suggestions could be made benefitting the business.

“Simply put, treat people as people,” says Bina Briggs from Plain Talking HR, “Involvement and inclusion are two of the key factors which help to retain and motivate employees.”

Listen, empower and appreciate are three key elements that Alison Flannery, Contact Centre Manager at Orbital Response suggests drives as the ultimate motivator.

“A number of different schemes can be applied to ensure ongoing motivation of staff such as proactively seeking feedback, involving staff in improvement plans, and developing incentives. There are a myriad of different motivation techniques that can be deployed, but one size does not fit all.”

Alison says that motivation levels are critical to business and can be cascaded through teams by including motivation levels within business KPIs and team objectives.

Ultimately the common factor is to create as comfortable as possible working environment for staff. This will not only result in a motivated workforce but will undoubtedly aid staff retention.

Offer flexible working

Cary Cooper, Professor of Work Psychology at Manchester University, predicts that the conditioning factor in the future of work will be to manage a continuously variable number of employees by offering them flexibility.

Working methods will be increasingly diverse, in addition to those needs of the people working within the organisation. These factors are already taking place, whether it’s part-time or temporary staff, to the aging population which are staying on to work or even the younger generations looking to start a family. Companies will have to look at their current offerings and decide if they have enough options in place in order to attract new and retain current talent.

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