Staff Retention

 Jul 08, 2015

In our new HR for Non-HR Managers Course, we cover the very topical question of Staff Retention. So much has been written about this but I find that there are a lack of specific, practical ideas and strategies for implementation. Contrary to popular belief, employees don’t chase the money – well there will always be some – they chase recognition and acknowledgement.

Here are some practical ways that I believe we can keep our best people, to create a motivated and happy workforce.

Working Conditions and Environment

There are so many variables these days, from the virtual office where technology reigns supreme, to flexible working conditions such as working in-part from home, or flexible working hours. Within the scope of your business requirements, individuals should be catered for, so that they want to work for you because you make it easy, pleasurable and convenient for them to do so. How will you know what works for them individually? Ask them!

Environmentally, safety and health seem obvious, but in what way can the employee see the benefit to themselves? Not every organisation can provide gym membership, or free massages (what a pity!) but everyone can promote good practices such as monitoring excessive overtime, ensuring lunch breaks, and communicating in positive manner with a focus on what is achievable. Additionally, mentoring, on-the-job-training and providing helpful feedback don’t cost a penny.

Consider whether all departments know how the business is doing and if there synergy between them to avoid the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing? Is it visible for all to see, such as on a chart or running sheet? Does every individual know exactly what is expected of them and how their contribution all makes it all tie together?

Effective Organisational Communication Practices

Pay attention to people issues around communication and interpersonal skills. An employee’s primary interactions will likely be with their supervisor and colleagues, so give them the relationship training they need to do this is an effective way. No matter how clever, efficient and competent a person is at their job, if they cannot get on with others in a collaborative manner, they are usually a liability to your organisation.

Make time to meet with your employees one-on-one, frequently. They are worth your time and will repay your attention with interest. It can be a few minutes but acknowledge their individuality and their identity. Sometimes, I believe, individuals get lost in the “team”. Things to talk about, besides performance, are stressors they might be experiencing, contributing ideas, future plans.

Acknowledge them publicly for their progress, or their achievements. Awards are nice, gifts are nice but in my opinion, just being noticed and thanked is recognition enough.

An interesting development I’ve come across is involving the employee’s family. A letter to the family thanking them for the support they have given to the employee may be one example, or involving the family when there is public recognition for an employee’s contribution, either at an award ceremony, or by letter, is another. Chances are, the employee will feel a stronger connection with the organisation if their family also believes that the employee is acknowledged and valued.

Employee Support Strategies

When people feel that they have the means to achieve what is expected of them, their job satisfaction increased dramatically. Do you set them up to succeed? Do you delegate effectively? Do you show them how their actions affect the whole of the team/department/organisation?

Here are some ideas for supporting your staff:

  1. Provide clear instructions and discuss the standards you expect. There should be discussion on how these can be achieved and what help is available.

  2. Give them challenging and varied work so that they are stretched and enjoy intrinsically what they do

  3. Follow through on any promises or practices that you have planned; not doing so is very demoralising and questions the value of the task at hand.

  4. Avoid micro-management. If you have trained your staff to be competent, then show your faith and belief in them by allowing them independence. They should know that they can come to you if there is a problem, without fear of judgement or punishment, but for support and advice.

This should be focused and address specific needs. There are a variety of ways this can be done, from in-house, to outside seminars and workshops, to online learning.

There is a modern trend that suggests that personal “Life” training increases employee retention. Ideas that have been suggested are: financial investment advice, how to buy car insurance, and so on. This will set you apart from other employers and show that you really care about your employees.

I know that compensation and benefits, as well as career opportunities are also integral to staff retention but I know that these areas are usually addressed. I have focused on the relationship side of employment and how we can keep our best people happy and motivated and wanting to work for us.

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About the Author:

Fee Hosking  

With over 24 years experience as a trainer, Fee is one of our most senior Professional Development trainers at New Horizons Sydney. With a professional background as a management consultant in the South African manufacturing industry, Fee brings credibility, experience and authenticity to all of the subjects that she trains. She has the ability to engage professionals from the junior to the senior level. Bringing great energy to the classroom, Fee ensures that the learning experience for all who attend is an enjoyable one, which in turn makes it a truly impactful one.

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