Employee retention strategy: A three-step guide

Many employers believe retaining staff is simply about money but it is far from the be all and end all. Here, we look at the best strategies to retain talent.

Attracting talent to work for you is just the beginning. Retaining that talent can be a challenge, but it’s absolutely imperative; recruitment is expensive and time consuming, staff leaving can cause unrest and inconvenience, plus training is a huge commitment. Realistically, you could be looking at months before you reach the same level of productivity and trust with a new member of the team, so it simply makes sense to try and keep the employees you have. Sadly, many employers still just don’t quite grasp this concept, but a happy workforce is a loyal, hard-working workforce and that can make a massive difference to the value a company holds.

Many employers believe it’s simply about money but, while that’s certainly a factor, it is far from the be all and end all. The best strategies to retain talent will include the three following elements:

1. Training, guidance and support

First and foremost, staff must be well equipped to perform, so an ongoing and structured training programme is essential. Clearly, this will vary from company to company; a small start-up will be more than likely looking at on-the-job training carried out by existing staff or the owner, so it’s important to ensure that person knows what they’re doing both professionally and in imparting knowledge. Larger companies will often outsource training to specialists, and huge operations could well have inhouse training departments. However the training is delivered, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s supportive and effective. It also makes sense to ask for employee feedback, both with regards to training that’s already taken place and to what further training they feel would help them in their role.

A culture of guidance and support is also of paramount importance, not just from bosses but from line managers and all senior staff. The benefits of this can be twofold; while encouraging and developing newer and less experienced employees, it can also engender a feeling of importance and value in more longstanding and senior staff members who, in turn, can help an employer understand why they have stayed so long.

2. Motivation, incentive and rewards

One has only to observe a primary school class and teacher in action to understand that incentives and rewards are a better motivator than threats of sanctions, and this holds true throughout life, albeit with rather different reward systems. A competitive benefits package, if possible, is always well received; private health and a generous pension package, for example. So-called perks like flexible working or the possibility of working from home can go some way to illustrating that you respect your team’s private lives, and will almost certainly aid the retention of working parents.

Other little ‘treats’ can foster a general feeling of being valued and belonging. Cream cakes on Friday, or breakfast rolls on a Monday are simple and inexpensive but can speak volumes. Larger businesses could consider arranging discounted gym memberships, or similar.

More obvious, and not just useful in a sales environment, are little contests; these can be fun or serious, for example ‘Who’s made the most brews this month’ or the employee who has brought in the most referrals. Never underestimate friendly competition.

3. Appraisal, promotion and salary

So, it’s not just about the money, but that helps. However, regular appraisal and the opportunity to develop are often more important. Perhaps there are no real chances for promotion in a smaller company, in which case think about more responsibility and autonomy, or an extra day holiday.

A valued employee will stay and be worth their weight in gold, and a valued workforce can make a huge difference when valuing a company.

Further reading on retaining staff

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