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Keep your staff and save your business!

Not only important for ‘feel good’ employers – important for profit and performance driven managers too. It is a truth widely acknowledged that retaining your best, trained, knowledgeable staff is more effective for your business than trying to replace them. The loss of a key employee can result in your business losing in profit more than the value of the individual’s annual salary! These costs include application advertising & processing, interviewing, recruiter salary and costs, and then once you’ve chosen a suitable candidate, there’s training them, the cost of any ‘new guy’ errors, lost sales in the interim period, reduced morale to other staff having to pick up the slack between appointments, and many more. The running of various initiatives or processes may also be impacted during this period which may have varying affects on your business internally and externally. Why do people leave? Some people may move on for personal reasons, such as family deciding to move to a different location, or a change of circumstance e.g. having children, or a change of heart such as deciding to train in a caring profession. To a large extent these departures can’t, and often shouldn’t, be discouraged. The best thing you can do once their decision is final, is give a fond farewell, offer the possibility of them returning should there be a change of circumstance, thank them for their time, maybe with cards or presents (and there’s always the elusive ‘golden handshake’ – one of my previous colleagues never got over the fact that there was no financial gift awarded at the end of such a lengthy ‘sentence’). Also never forget that your remaining employees will undoubtedly judge you on how well you treat a departing colleague. Some may be put off staying with you long term if they realise there’s going to be no ‘reward’ for long term commitment and service at the end of the period. Some people may not want to move on, but for a variety of reasons may feel like their employer has failed them and so given them no choice but to apply for other jobs. If these people are your ‘key employees’, simply follow some best practices for focussing on employee retention and you may save a fortune – if you manage to prevent them from that first getting the ball rolling and signing up to weekly vacancy emails or scouring vacancies on their lunch break, you may stop the in-depth search from getting underway, as it only takes one decent interview offer to get the seed of greener grass in their mind. Top tips for employee retention The top niggles or complaints which led to employees job searching are listed below. The BEST way to keep your top employees is to ensure that they are not being nudged into the job search, by eliminating these top gripes. Higher Salaries offered elsewhere – Salaries are not the ONLY consideration and not the main reason people move jobs, contrary to popular belief! However you can be assured that if your employees aren’t feeling satisfied in the work place, finding that they are being underpaid


comparatively is going to further motivate them to leave and facilitate them doing so if leaving will be financially beneficial to them! Internal Pay Inequality – Why should your long standing employees who will have given over and above for years, and have an irreplaceable working knowledge of clients, contacts, and your organisation’s history, be paid less than newcomers? My previous boss explained this to me once and said ‘unfortunately, that’s just the way it is.’ And so I left. When he was asking me to work a longer notice period than my contract required, my loyalty was already with my new employer, and ‘THAT’s just the way it is.’ I only feel sorry for my colleagues who had to pick up the slack, which leads me on to... Too Heavy Workload – A major complaint from departing employees is that the workload was too heavy. Whether from people being made redundant or quitting and the remaining employees having to pick it up, to business demands growing whilst the work force isn’t, to other staff members being unskilled, people having consistently too much work creates a business culture that doesn’t facilitate people to learn, grow, or achieve goals. It just creates stress. Even when employees are making great achievements, if they are so bogged down in other areas, this will cloud any feelings of achievement and make them feel they’re not getting anywhere and aren’t any good at their job. To avoid this - plan your work force to grow as the business does, make timely appointments to replace departed colleagues, facilitate regular training to ensure all staff members are pulling their weight and work together. Additional tips to ease workload range from weekly update meetings and sharing workloads across the team, to having a telephone business answering service taking calls in peak times so that staff can focus on goals and achieve them in allotted times, to creating an open culture where staff can discuss with line managers their workload levels and how they are coping. Over-management – Whilst it’s important to create this open culture where workloads can be discussed, it’s important for management to be able to step back and let people work through their tasks without constant interruptions and update requests. Work places that encourage employee empowerment and don’t ‘micromanage’ will have more content employees. Contractual Benefits – Whilst salary is probably the most obvious financial incentive, there are other potential features of contracts which make your employment offer more attractive. Whether it’s private healthcare, a good pension scheme, a generous maternity leave policy, discounts or free offers from gyms, cinemas or local restaurants, or a higher than average annual leave allowance these additional extras can make it a lot more undesirable for an employee to leave your company. A previous colleague of mine will remain loyal to her employer for many years, due to the fact that the private health insurance they provided paid for treatment of a life threatening disease. The other side to this story though, whilst everyone’s obviously thrilled that she coincidentally was on the best benefit package, those of us who weren’t offered life insurance as part of our employment package felt more hard done by than before, and so a lot less loyal – the stark reality that should something have happened to any of us we wouldn’t have been covered for private treatment encouraged us to look for new roles offering better benefits packages.


Rewards for Achievements – It is good to reward those staff who have gone the extra mile, or have shown extra talent, or have achieved their goals. Those higher achievers should be rewarded more than those not achieving in order to encourage all staff to perform well. Those employees not achieving and not receiving rewards should be offered the chance to see clear guidelines on how they can aim to receive these merit based rewards, financial or other. If all employees have access to this opportunity, all employees will be able to work towards specific goals earning their own rewards, and thus self-motivate. If it’s too late and your key employee is working their notice period! Don’t despair! This is of course a hitch, but the best thing you can do is to do an exit interview to find out the departing employee’s main concerns and reasons for leaving, to see how you can work on those areas in order to satisfy your remaining employees. You will never have such frank feedback as from an employee who has freedom of speech without repercussion. If you are losing top employees it would be safe to assume that other employees may well also be looking – find out why and fix the issues in order to minimise the chances of all your key employees up and leaving. Using this information, and the general tips above, work with your remaining employees and your new employees, paying them fair wages with attractive benefits package, treating them all equally with a clear role and responsibility related pay structure, empowering them and being available to them to discuss work stresses, training them, praising and rewarding them, and build up a team of people who don’t want to leave because they’re sure they work for the best company around.


Employee Retention Tips